George, Hibbert help Pacers hold off Nets 97-96

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 1, 2014 at 11:03 pm •  Published: February 1, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Pacers' bench didn't provide much in Saturday night's 97-96 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Danny Granger, Luis Scola, C.J. Watson and Ian Mahinmi combined to shoot just 4 of 18 for 16 points. None played more than Watson's 18:33.

"We've got to figure out something to get a better rhythm with that group," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.

Maybe the arrival of Andrew Bynum will help.

Hours after the Pacers signed the free-agent center for the rest of the season, Indiana overcame an early deficit and held off the Nets to improve to an NBA-best 22-2 at home.

Bynum wasn't in the arena — Vogel said before the game that the mercurial big man had returned to Cleveland and hadn't had a chance to meet his new teammates yet.

But Indiana's All-Star starter, Paul George, isn't concerned about Bynum's reputation.

"I think it increases our chances (of winning a championship)," George said. "A lot of teams have three centers. With us only having two, him being one of the best ones out there, it's a no-brainer to go after a talented guy like that."

The Pacers (36-10) eked out the win despite a season-high 24 turnovers that Brooklyn converted into 36 points.

"We didn't play a great game," Vogel said. "We've got to get under control."

George and Roy Hibbert both had 20 points for the Pacers, who swept the four-game season series.

Lance Stephenson, left out of the All-Star game despite leading the NBA in triple-doubles, added 14 points for Indiana. David West had 17 points and George Hill scored 10.

"We've got to be a little more patient. We're swinging for the fences a little too much in terms of trying to make some tight interior passes as opposed to making the simple play," said West, who had a game-high seven assists.

Shaun Livingston scored a season-high 24 points for the Nets, who couldn't hold an early seven-point lead against the Eastern Conference leaders.

Joe Johnson, an All-Star selection, spent much of the night dueling with Stephenson and scored 16 for Brooklyn, which has lost three straight since starting January with 11 wins in 12 games.

"We play 82 games through the season and you're going to have your ups and downs, and hopefully you're ready come playoff time," Nets coach Jason Kidd said.

Stephenson, unhappy he was left off the All-Star team, had words at times with the Brooklyn bench.

"I could care less if it's personal," Johnson said. "He needs to talk it over with the coaches. I've got nothing to do with it."

Paul Pierce scored 15 points, Deron Williams added 13 and Kevin Garnett had 12 for the Nets, who were coming off a 120-95 loss at home to Oklahoma City on Friday night.



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