3 Things to Like and Dislike From the Pacers' Loss Against Pelicans
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Indiana Pacers looked to bounce-back from a blowout loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. They nearly did, but ultimately, fell short 114-113 to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Both teams were close in the opening period and the Pacers held a 30-27 lead through the first quarter. A struggling performance in the second-quarter caused Indiana to face a manageable 57-48 disadvantage at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Pacers' bench unit with Justin Holiday on the floor heated up from the perimeter. In fact, they were converting so well that Indiana ultimately opted to ride with that group for the whole fourth quarter until Goga Bitadze fouled out late.
In the end, the Pacers had a chance to pull off a victory but failed to convert on a potential go-ahead scoring opportunity with 39.1 seconds left to play. Lonzo Ball left TJ McConnell on the perimeter to cut off Myles Turner's drive to the basket -- causing a missed finish.
Here are three things to like and dislike from Friday's loss:
LIKE: Complementary Wings Thrived
It isn't easy to find helpful role players on the wing and the Pacers seem to have plenty in their rotation. Between Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb, and Doug McDermott, Indiana has the complementary talents of a strong team. This game was a real representation of it.
No player had a better performance for the Pacers than Holiday. He produced 22 points, six rebounds, and four assists while tying his single-game career-high in made three-pointers (7). He is averaging 15.7 points on 54.5% shooting from deep so far this month.
Lamb and McDermott each managed to reach double-figure scoring in this game, too. In fact, Lamb was closest to Holiday's scoring figure with 17 points and McDermott contributed 14 points. Overall, all three of these wings made 14 three-pointers collectively.
When Caris LeVert and TJ Warren return to game action eventually, the Pacers will have a very deep rotation. Indiana will have plenty of intriguing lineup combinations at their disposal with great floor spacing and overall versatility.
DISLIKE: Sabonis Was Neutralized
It's not easy to have an interior oriented skill-set and have to go up against a center like Steven Adams. This proved to be quite problematic for Domantas Sabonis as he finished with just eight points on 3-of-13 (23.1%) from the field.
Defensively, it was a struggle for Sabonis to make an impact. The Pacers initially matched him up with Zion Williamson and he was simply unable to prevent him from getting to the rim.
The bar is set very high for Sabonis' impact because he is likely going to be the Pacers' only All-Star. He needs to transcend difficult matchups offensively due to how important he is, but also, because he has plenty of short comings defensively.
LIKE: Bitadze Showed Potential
It has been difficult for Goga Bitadze to find his way onto the court for the Pacers since being drafted. With Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis both signed to large contracts, it's expected for there not being much room for a third big man.
The Pacers turned to Bitadze to make an impact and he delivered. He matched his career-high in scoring with 10 points while chipping in a pair of blocks. He made some key defensive plays throughout the flow of the game on top of it.
There are random occurrences that happen some nights that force a team to dig deeper into their bench. Turner got into foul trouble after recording two charge calls while Sabonis was just simply struggling -- resulting in a season-high 19 minutes for Bitadze.
From an overview perspective, not having to give heavy minutes to Sabonis and Turner every single night throughout the season would be helpful for the Pacers. Indiana can't afford for another key player to go down with injury and being able to trust Bitadze would help.
DISLIKE: Poor Second Quarter
Having a bad quarter in a game can prove to be too costly to overcome in some situations. For the Pacers, that was the case when they were outscored 30-18 by the Pelicans during the second quarter of Friday's matchup.
The Pacers sputtered along offensively during this frame -- finishing with 18 points while going just 5-of-21 (23.8%) from the field and 1-of-7 (14.3%) from the perimeter. None of Indiana's players managed to even reach five points.
When Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis struggle offensively, the Pacers typically are unable to overcome. During this stretch, Sabonis scored only three points on 1-of-6 (16.7%) from the field while Brogdon was limited to three points on 1-of-4 (25.0%).
There was little the Pacers did defensively that managed to work within this quarter, too. The Pelicans put up 30 points with Josh Hart (9) and Brandon Ingram (8) nearly matching the Pacers in scoring collectively.
LIKE: Historic Perimeter Shooting
There would never have been a near comeback effort by the Pacers if it wasn't for their hot perimeter shooting in the second half. Indiana went a staggering 16-of-25 (64.0%) from deep after halftime and specifically 10-of-12 (83.3%) in the fourth quarter.
Justin Holiday was the primary catalyst in the Pacers' perimeter shooting impact. He chipped in three makes during the third quarter and another three during the final period. Overall, he finished 7-of-13 (53.8%) from beyond the arc.
The Pacers received plenty of other key contributions in their perimeter shooting attack. Indiana had four other players finish with multiple makes from deep including Doug McDermott (4), Jeremy Lamb (3), Aaron Holiday (2), and Goga Bitadze (2).
Indiana finished with a franchise-record 20 made three-pointers in this game. Perhaps most intriguing of all was that the Pacers achieved this mark despite Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis coming up empty and Myles Turner shooting 1-of-6 (16.7%) on his looks.
DISLIKE: Closing Personnel Choices
Using scorching hot perimeter shooting, the Pacers' bench unit managed to rally the team back from a double-figure deficit. It was admirable for Indiana to stick with that group but that proved to have been misplaced confidence.
TJ McConnell thrived setting up teammates for quality looks throughout the second half, but shouldn't have been on the court at the end of the game. His inability to shoot the ball from deep can be taken advantage of by pre-rotating off him to pressure the ball.
By having McConnell on the wing during the Pacers' final offensive play, the Pelicans were able to leave him to apply extra ball pressure. This resulted in Lonzo Ball getting in front of Myles Turner's drive to the rim to prevent a potential game-altering outcome.
Malcolm Brogdon being in the game instead could have provided a completely spaced floor for the Pacers to prevent two defenders being sent to the ball. Perhaps he could have made a big play with the ball of his own, too.