"We can get things going for a while but we have a period where we struggle," coach Kevin McHale said. "And we're constantly going through a period in the first half where we have a slew of turnovers and then it's a battle to get back and fight and get over the hump."
McHale blamed most of Houston's recent problems on fatigue.
But on Friday, George was a far bigger factor in Houston's struggles.
His early scoring flurry helped the Pacers build a 31-18 lead after the first quarter. His fifth 3-pointer gave him 23 first-half points and allowed Indiana to close out the first half with a 59-52 halftime lead.
Houston charged back quickly in the third quarter, closing to 61-58 on a 10-foot jumper from Asik with 9:01 left in the third.
Then Indiana answered with four straight points and followed that spurt with a 10-0 run thanks in part of three of George's steals. That made it 73-61.
The Pacers closed out the third quarter with a 10-4 spurt that included another 3 from George that gave Indiana an 83-69 lead.
"They were able to get their hands in the passing lanes and disrupt what we were trying to do," Jeremy Lin said after scoring 10 points. "We were never able to build a lot of momentum at any point in the game."
Houston never got closer than seven the rest of the way.
"Paul George, what can you say?" Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "I've never really seen a defender like Paul. He's dominating, he was dominant tonight."
Notes: Harden also had an NBA-best streak of 20 straight games leading his team in scoring end Friday. ... Vogel told reporters before the game that Green would dress and might play, but the team sent him home before tip-off when it became clear he was too ill. ... The Pacers honored the Marian University football team during the first quarter of Friday night's game. Marian won its first NAIA national championship last month. ... IndyCar driver Graham Rahal attended the game.
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