INDIANAPOLIS – Considering the circumstances, Tuesday night was one of the best wins of the Pacers’ young season.
Coming off a back-to-back, and with Victor Oladipo resting, the Pacers (7-4) defense set the tone in keeping the Golden State Warriors under 100 points.
On a night when Malcolm Brogdon (13 points) and Domantas Sabonis (18 points) had two of their quieter nights of the year, it was Myles Turner and Aaron Holiday making some huge plays in the second half for Indiana to pull away for the 104-95 victory.
“Aaron and Myles came out, changed the whole game with their defense, their energy, their offense and they just made the right reads the whole game,” Sabonis said after the Pacers moved to 7-4 on the year. “That really gave us that little extra edge out right when we needed it.”
Holiday, who has struggled for much of this season, had 16 points and 12 assists in 28 minutes off the bench, causing problems for the Warriors with his dribble penetration in closing out the 4th quarter.
Turner led the Pacers with 22 points (7-of-11 shooting), 12 rebounds and 5 blocks.
After giving up 30 points in each quarter in Monday’s loss to the Kings, the Pacers allowed just 18 and 20 points in the final two quarters on Tuesday.
“We dug in there a little bit more,” Nate Bjorkgren said on Tuesday, following two games in which the Pacers had allowed a season-high in points. “I thought our readiness was much better. Whatever happened on the offensive end, makes and misses, I thought our readiness just getting back and getting our defense set up was key there. The communication amongst the players out there on the floor, I thought they were talking through all the actions and being aggressive, just their overall communication with each other I thought was big. They did a nice job.”
Edmond Sumner started for Oladipo and did a nice job in limiting Stephen Curry (7-of-17 shooting).
Down 90-88 with just over 3 minutes to go, the Pacers won this game with a 13-0 run, making the critical plays down the stretch and not letting Curry to take over late.
The Pacers will take Wednesday off before playing the Trailblazers on Thursday night.
Three Things Learned
1. Young Holiday Delivers: If you are handing out an individual game ball, it deserves to go to Myles Turner (22 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks). But Tuesday’s win wouldn’t have happened if Aaron Holiday didn’t break out of early-season slump. Holiday’s shooting was just 6-of-16, but his 16 points off the bench was really needed and his playmaking included a season-high 12 assists. Again, the Pacers really needed this, but so did the 2018 first-round pick. If the Pacers were fully healthy on Tuesday (Victor Oladipo rested and T.J. McConnell is still back in Indy with the birth of his son), there’s a chance Holiday wouldn’t have even been in the rotation. But he played 28 minutes off the bench and offered the spark ability he brings.
2. Pacers Turn To Edmond Sumner: With Oladipo resting, Nate Bjorkgren went with Edmond Sumner in the starting lineup. Bjorkgren wasn’t afraid to throw a big role at Sumner either. The Pacers used Sumner on Steph Curry and even went to a Box-and-1, using that specific matchup. Sumner’s length and athleticism has always been his best weapon, and it slowed down Curry, who finished with 20 points on 7-of-17 shooting. Tapping into that, and getting Sumner to be more consistent, has been the issue in holding the young guard back from a more routine rotational role. Sumner also scored 12 points on Tuesday. As you’d expect, Bjorkgren threw a variety of defenses at Curry and the explosive Warriors (including a triangle and two).
3. Oladipo Sits Out Back-To-Back: So, Victor Oladipo playing on back-to-backs remains something that the Pacers are not comfortable doing right now. Oladipo sat out Tuesday night’s game, marking two years since he last played in games on consecutive nights. If this trend continues, Oladipo will only play against the Suns (Saturday), or Clippers (Sunday), this weekend. Indiana has another half dozen back-to-backs on this first part of the schedule. Without Oladipo, and with T.J McConnell still back in Indiana due to the birth of his son, the Pacers bumped former Butler star Kelan Martin into the rotation in the first half. Rookie Cassius Stanley also got a little clock. And JaKarr Sampson gave the team good minutes with 6 points and 6 rebounds.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-@Trailblazers (Thursday, 1-14, at 10:00 PM)
-@Suns (Saturday, 1-16, at 9:00 PM)
-@Clippers (Sunday, 1-7, at 10:00 PM)
-Mavericks (Wednesday, 1-20, at 7:00 PM)
-Magic (Friday, 1-22, at 7:00 PM)