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Pacers Rip Blazers, 92-75
Written by AP Report    Wednesday, 14 March 2012 00:49   

INDIANAPOLIS -- The collective voice rang out suddenly and unexpectedly: "Louuuuuu!!"

A few minutes later, it happened again. For a while, every time Lou Amundson touched the ball in the fourth quarter, the Pacers' reserve heard that same encouragement from the crowd.

He delivered, scoring a career-high 21 points to help Indiana beat the Portland Trail Blazers 92-75 on Tuesday night

Amundson shot 10 for 11 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds. His previous season high in scoring was 11, but he had 13 points in the fourth quarter alone. It was just his second time scoring in double figures this season.

"Everybody was finding me under the basket wide open, so I was just trying to finish plays and make the most out of my opportunities," he said.

Pacers fans couldn't get enough. While Amundson was shooting free throws, "M-V-P" chants rang out from Area 55, home to the loudest, most rowdy group of Pacers fans. Amundson played 23 minutes, just the second time this season he's played more than 20.

Paul George, Danny Granger and George Hill each added 11 points for the Pacers. Hill returned after missing two games with a sprained left shoulder.

Indiana led by as many as 29 points and snapped a four-game losing streak. The performance was a good setup for Wednesday's game against Atlantic Division leader Philadelphia.

"It was great just to get a win," Pacers center Roy Hibbert said. "Any win right now was good, and now, we have a tough game ahead of us against Philadelphia. We're just going to get mentally prepared and ready to go."

It was one of Indiana's best defensive efforts of the season. Portland's five assists were the fewest by an NBA team this season. In fact, just once since the start of the 1986-87 season has a team had fewer assists in a game -- the New Orleans Hornets had four on Dec. 12, 2010.

"Communication, I think, was the key to the game," Hill said. "We talked on the defensive end all the time and relied on each other and helped each other out. Any time we do that, we're going to be a tough team."

Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge scored 17 points, but he made just 5 of 15 field goals. Hibbert, who guarded Aldridge often during the game, said the Pacers played him well.

"The team defense was good," Hibbert said. "We were just trying to help out as much as possible. We tried to make things difficult for him. He's a great player."

Nolan Smith scored 10 points for the Trail Blazers, who shot a season-low 31.3 percent from the field and made a season-low 20 field goals.

Indiana shot 54 percent to lead 48-38 at halftime. Hill led the Pacers with 11 points and David West had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Aldridge led Portland with 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting in the first half while the rest of the team went 4 for 19.

"The missing shots definitely hurt us," Smith said. "We obviously shot badly, and we let that affect our defense. As a team, you never let offense affect defense. But we did, and it just snowballed from there."

The Trail Blazers outscored Indiana 19-3 from the free-throw line in the first half to stay in the game.

Indiana began extending the lead early in the second half. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Granger put the Pacers up 58-41.

A three-point play by Tyler Hansbrough after the Pacers won a jump ball gave the Pacers a 66-47 lead, and an acrobatic layup by Darren Collison on a broken play pushed Indiana's lead to 20 points. A left-handed fastbreak layup by Collison bumped the lead to 72-50, and a 3 by George helped the Pacers take a 75-52 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Back-to-back layups by Amundson pushed the lead to 79-54 and forced Portland to call timeout.

An alley-oop from A.J. Price to Dahntay Jones increased Indiana's lead to 87-60.

"We were playing good 'D,' and that enabled us to get out and break a little bit and speed up the tempo," Amundson said. "I think that was good for us."

Game notes
Indianapolis native Greg Oden was with Portland and was on crutches on the sideline. Oden, Indiana's Mr. Basketball in 2006, is out with a left knee injury. ... The Pacers observed a moment of silence for former assistant coach Dick Harter, who died Monday in South Carolina at age 81. Harter coached the defense under Larry Bird when the Pacers made the NBA Finals in 2000. .... Pacers C Jeff Foster was not with the team because of a lingering back issue. ... Portland made 2 of 15 shots in the first quarter. The total was the fewest Indiana has allowed in a first quarter since last March 17 against Portland. It was the fewest field goals Portland has made in a first quarter since STATS, Inc. began tracking the statistic in 2002-03.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
 

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