Pacers cruise to win No 9

Updated: 2013-11-17 07:06

By Associated Press in Indianapolis (China Daily)

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Indiana's Roy Hibbert had the perfect knockout combination on Friday night.

On offense, he made all but two shots. On defense, he protected the rim. At the free-throw line, he couldn't miss and no matter what the Bucks tried to stop the former All-Star center, nothing worked.

Hibbert finished with season highs of 24 points and eight blocks and added 10 rebounds to lead unbeaten Indiana past Milwaukee 104-77 - the Pacers' most lopsided rout in a 9-0 start.

With Friday night's 104-77 thumping of the Bucks, the Pacers became just the fifth team in NBA history to start a season 9-0 while holding each of its opponents to fewer than 100 points.

"We have expectations and we want to win," Hibbert said. "We want to play deep, deep into the playoffs. You gain confidence with your teammates when we are all on the same page and we all have one goal. Some guys on this team before were just trying to get a paycheck and go home and then chilling on the beach and sip mojitos or something like that. That's not us. "

Hibbert was referring to the teams he played on before he arrived in Indy.

There's no doubt that philosophy has changed. On Friday, the Pacers followed the same blue-collar script they have used to win their first nine games.

Milwaukee had a season-low point total, finished well below its season average of 93.7 points, and shot just 34.1 percent against the league's No 1 defense. It's the fourth time Indiana has held an opponent to 80 or fewer points this season and it's the second time this week.

Now, after becoming the first team in the league to start 9-0 since Dallas in 2002-03, Indiana has a chance to reach more milestones. The defending Central Division champ heads to Chicago on Saturday with a chance to become the 14th team in league history to go 10-0, and it can break the longest winning streak in the franchise's NBA history.

Indiana also won nine straight from Nov 2-22 in 2002. Another win also would put it on the precipice of the longest winning streak in Pacers history (11), which stretches all the way back to 1972-73, when it was still in the ABA.

About the only bad move coach Frank Vogel made on Friday was pulling Hibbert early rather than allowing him to try and become the second Pacers player this week to post a triple-double.

Hibbert didn't care. He would rather beat Chicago for the second time in 10 days and at least lock up a tie in the season series against the team's fiercest division rival.

Pacers cruise to win No 9

(China Daily 11/17/2013 page7)