Pacers celebrate Turner's big birthday by beating Pelicans
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indiana Pacers rookie Myles Turner had the perfect vision for his 20th birthday bash.
He played his best game of the season and got a win.
Turner scored 24 points, grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds and led the Pacers to a crucial 92-84 victory Thursday over the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans. He wanted a little more.
''I was really trying to get 20 points and 20 rebounds,'' a giddy Turner said. ''The big thing for us tonight was that we knew they were short-handed but, because of that, we also knew we had to match their intensity and get this win.''
The Pacers needed Turner more than ever on a night they looked uninspired even before losing Paul George in the third quarter with a bruised right leg, the same leg he gruesomely broke in August 2014. George did not play over the final 19 1/2 minutes and finished with 15 points and four rebounds.
After the game, coach Frank Vogel said the three-time All-Star was considered day to day.
That was about the only thing that tainted Turner's spectacular night. He was 11 of 17 from the field and blocked three shots in 32 1/2 minutes and dazzled the crowd with a one-handed windmill dunk in the first half.
He did more than make big plays and put up impressive numbers, too. Turner scored eight straight points late in the first half to start a decisive 13-2 run that gave the Pacers a 49-37 lead. Indiana never trailed again.
''Turner is becoming a big-time threat,'' Vogel said. ''He is improving and is getting a lot better defensively. We're asking him to guard a lot of different people. He was really good tonight.''
By winning their second straight, the Pacers moved a half-game ahead of Detroit for the No. 7 spot in the East and two games ahead of ninth-place Chicago.
New Orleans has lost seven of nine, the latest one coming with only eight players in uniform because of injuries.
Yet they still made things difficult for the Pacers.
Alexis Ajinca scored 22 points and Tim Frazier had a career-high 18 to lead the Pelicans, who got within six late in the third quarter and cut the deficit to 88-84 on Toney Douglas' 3-poitner with 1:03 left.
The Pelicans couldn't get any closer.
''I thought we kept trying to battle our way back, we just couldn't quite get over the hump,'' coach Alvin Gentry said. ''I thought we did a great job.''
Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis had surgery on his left knee Thursday. But Davis, the team said, will not need surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder. He is not expected to return to basketball activities for three to four months.
MILES AND MYLES
When George left in the third quarter, C.J. Miles stepped in and played well. Miles scored eight points in final 7 1/2 minutes of the third quarter and scored seven more in the fourth. He finished with 19 points.
Vogel appreciates the effort his team is making defensively. He'd just like to see it show up more on offense. After coasting to a 16-point victory over Philadelphia on Monday, Vogel challenged his team before Thursday's game. ''I don't think we've played hard enough offensively,'' Vogel said. ''We've played really hard defensively, but not hard enough offensively.''
Pelicans: In addition to Davis, New Orleans was without Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday, Norris Cole, Ryan Anderson, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Tyreke Evans and Quincy Poindexter. ... Douglas scored 13 points against the Pacers, the team he was with in training camp. ... After forcing 25 turnovers and coming up with a franchise record 21 steals in the first game against the Pacers this season, the Pelicans forced 14 turnovers and had seven steals Thursday.
Pacers: Have swept the season series five straight seasons and their 10-game winning streak in the series is Indiana's longest active streak against an NBA team. ... Jordan Hill missed the team's shootaround because of personal reasons but finished with four points and four rebounds in 15 minutes. ... George Hill had six points and eight assists.
Pelicans: Host Toronto on Saturday.
Pacers: Visit Brooklyn on Saturday.