INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers did what they do best Saturday night against the New Orleans Pelicans: dominate the third quarter to take control of the game.
Forward Paul George scored a game-high 24 points to rally the Pacers to a 99-82 come-from-behind win over the Pelicans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
But, it was guard Lance Stephenson's 12-point surge in the third that gave the Pacers the boost they needed to improve to 26-6.
"I just try to find something to get myself angry," Stephenson said. "Today I felt like I was not playing up to my ability. (Rasual Butler) came up to me and was like, 'Hey you got to pick it up. You are not yourself.' He definitely made me angry."
Indiana finally overtook New Orleans 58-57 with 6:12 left in the third when Stephenson drove into the paint for a layup after point guard Jrue Holiday committed an offensive foul that resulted in a turnover.
Stephenson tallied 19 points, 5.7 better than his season average.
The Pacers have outscored opponents by 185 points in the third.
"Sometimes we don't come out aggressive," Stephenson said. "We come in (at halftime) and watch film and coach (Frank Vogel) says, 'Hey, pick it up.'"
They listen as the Pacers have outscored their opponents by 185 points during the third.
Stephenson's bucket was part of the Pacers' dominating 30-12 performance in the third quarter. Indiana shot a blistering 68.8 percent (11 of 16).
That was a far cry from the dismal 35 percent shooting the Pacers logged during the opening quarter.
As the Pacers had a dramatic improvement from the first to the third quarter, the Pelicans went in the complete opposite direction.
New Orleans shot 61.9 percent on 13 of 21 shooting, which resulted in its 27-15 early lead. They could not match the same intensity to open the second half as they managed to make just four of 16 shots for 25 percent shooting.
Guard Eric Gordon, an Indianapolis native, led the Pelicans with 21 points and center Alexis Ajinca added 17.
"I thought I did pretty well in the first half," Gordon said. "But in the second half I kind of slowed down."
Vogel made adjustments during halftime that limited Gordon to just three points during the second half after he had scored 17 in the first.
"We wanted to mix up the matchup a little bit on Gordon, give him a different look," Vogel said. "We put George (Hill) on him some. (We wanted) to try to calm him down a little bit."
The Pelicans were without their leading scorer, forward Ryan Anderson, who is averaging 19.8 points. The former first-round draft pick suffered a cervical stinger after a collision with Celtics forward Gerald Wallace on Friday. He remained in a Boston-area hospital Saturday.
"Well we just didn't play well," Pelican coach Monty Williams said. "Basically they took it to us on the defensive end and I thought offensively Stephenson was the catalyst for them."
The momentum began to swing in the favor of the Pacers during the final six minutes of the second quarter thanks in part to the play of the second unit.
Forward/guard Danny Granger and guard C.J. Watson made the most of their playing time in the second quarter, scoring six points apiece as part of the bench's 16 points that helped keep the Pacers close.
Grange had a season-high 13 points.
Three technical fouls were issued to the Pelicans during the third quarter: one to Anthony Davis, one to Holiday and one to assistant coach Dave Hanners.
"What we showed in the third (quarter) is who we are," Vogel said. "We're a high-powered offense with some shot makers."
NOTES: The Pelicans had three players reach 20 points during the Oct. 30 game that the Pacers won 95-90: G Eric Gordon 25, G True Holiday 24 and C Anthony Davis 20. ... The Pacers entered Saturday's game 4-1 in games after a loss. ... Pacers announced F Solomon Hill has been recalled from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Developmental League. ... Coming into the game, Pelicans F/C Anthony Davis led the NBA in shots blocked per game with 3.21 in 24 games, while Pacers C Roy Hibbert led in total blocks with 84.