3 Things to Like and Dislike From Pacers' Win Against Hornets
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets faced off on Wednesday to begin a back-to-back series with one another. In the first part of this series, it was the Pacers who won with 116-106 being the final score.
Both teams had their best quarter in the opening half. The Pacers kicked things off with a 36-point period at the start of this game while the Hornets answered back with a 36-point frame of their own in the second quarter. It was Indiana who led 59-55 at halftime.
Neither team managed to create any separation in the third quarter but the Pacers did end up pulling away down the stretch in the final period. Indiana took a double-figure lead with 4:34 left to play in the game and never looked back through the final buzzer.
Here are three things to like and dislike from Wednesday's win:
Like: Tremendous First Quarter Performance
It's difficult to envision the Pacers being able to put together a better performance for a full frame than they had during the first quarter of this game. Indiana managed to score 36 points within this period while containing the Hornets to just 19 points.
The offensive performance from the Pacers was intriguing to see. Indiana scored 36 points while going 14-of-23 (60.9%) from the field and 6-of-9 (66.7%) from beyond the arc with just two turnovers.
The Pacers' defense was just as important as the Hornets were contained to 8-of-24 (33.3%) shooting from the field. Indiana's defensive impact helped to lower the bar needed from their offense even though that didn't prove to be needed.
Dislike: Poor Second Quarter Execution
For almost as impressive the Pacers were during the first quarter of this game, they were almost just as unimpressive in the second period. Indiana could have potentially put the game away with another strong frame of performance but failed to do so. Charlotte outscored the Pacers by a 36-23 margin in this stretch.
The Hornets almost immediately took advantage of having Gordon Hayward pick on the Pacers' bench personnel to begin the second period. This went on over the initial 4:15 of the quarter and Charlotte outscored Indiana by a 16-4 margin.
Intead of being able to make a substantial run to counter the Hornets' initial push to begin the second quarter, the Pacers mostly just traded baskets when their starters checked back into the game.
Like: Pacers' Ball Movement
The Pacers made a strong impact in the ball movement department and it showed as they finished with a season-high 34 assists. The unit was flowing with unselfish passing and great cuts.
It doesn't happen often, but Doug McDermott was surprisingly the leading scorer in this game -- showing the power of the Pacers' ball movement. He finished with a season-high 28 points and managed to achieve this despite going 1-of-5 (20.0%) from beyond the arc.
There was a clear emphasis from the Hornets' defense to prevent McDermott from getting free for perimeter jump shots. He countered this frequently by back-cutting against top-locks and by putting the ball on the floor to drive to the rim against lock-and-trails.
Dislike: Starting Jeremy Lamb
The level of impact Jeremy Lamb has been able to provide the Pacers since returning from an 11-month layoff is nothing short of incredible. However, he had his first true bad performance of his young season during this game.
Throughout Lamb's NBA career, he has been a rhythm scorer that needs to be able to operate with the basketball in his hands to truly thrive. That doesn't happen when having to play alongside heavily involved playmakers like Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis.
Lamb never quite managed to find his rhythm and finished with three points on just 1-of-6 (16.7%) from the field. Perhaps most concerning of all was that only one of his shot attempts was from inside the arc. That shows he wasn't able to get downhill often or operate much in mid-range.
Like: Another Strong Closing Performance
One of the key indicators of a highly successful team is their ability to execute when the game reaches clutch-time situations. The Pacers saw their lead get cut to just 94-92 with 7:45 left to play. From that point on, Indiana outscored the Hornets by 22-14.
During Monday's win over the Raptors, the Pacers used a strong run at the end of the game to pull away from the opposition. Doing so once again shows how Indiana is figuring out how to execute when it matters most in order to come out on top in close games.
McDermott raised his game down the stretch when the Pacers pulled away from the Hornets to seal the win. He managed to score 13 of Indiana's final 22 points and came close to almost scoring as many points as the Hornets did as they had 16 in this stretch.
Dislike: Reducing Myles Turner's Minutes
When the Pacers have Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner healthy, there is little reason to give Goga Bitadze minutes. One of Sabonis or Turner needs to be on the court at all times throughout the course of the 48 minutes of action. Against the Hornets, that didn't happen.
There is lost opportunity for the Pacers to feed Turner when he isn't getting his minutes staggered. He's able to play a vital offensive role with the bench and can tie those units together with his rim protection ability -- something that would have helped mightily in the beginning of the second quarter.
There is also valid room to complain about the Pacers not bringing Turner back into the lineup in the fourth quarter until there was just 2:45 remaining in the game. He had plenty more left in the tank to give as he finished with just 27 minutes of playing time.