Pacers Fall Short Despite Rally Against Pelicans, Lose 114-113

Grant Afseth

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - After experiencing their worst loss of the season, the Indiana Pacers sought to bounce back against the New Orleans Pelicans during the NBA's Friday slate. 

The Pelicans made it a point to get Zion Williamson involved as a finisher in the paint early on -- posing plenty of problems for the Pacers' defense. He scored an early 10 points on 5-of-6 (83.3%) from the field. Meanwhile, Brandon Ingram had it rolling early too and chipped in 10 points of his own. 

Despite the early success that Ingram and Williamson experienced, the Pacers still managed to hold a 30-27 advantage at the end of the opening period. Both teams experienced effective results on offense and was unable to gain separation. That didn't last long, though.

Indiana relied on Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon to help carry their offense in the second quarter to no avail. The Pacers had just 18 points and went 5-of-21 (23.8%) from the field and 1-of-7 (14.3%) from deep during this stretch. 

While the Pacers struggled to execute offensively in the second quarter, the Pelicans were still clicking. Brandon Ingram added another eight points to his scoring total while Josh Hart led all scorers within the frame with nine points. New Orleans put up 30 points as a unit and held a 57-48 lead at halftime. 

Justin Holiday began to heat up to help rally the Pacers back after the break. He made three shots from the perimeter in the third quarter and ultimately finished with seven makes from deep on the night. Indiana went 6-of-13 (46.2%) on three-point attempts during this stretch to keep the game within reach entering the fourth quarter. 

"It can be cool to talk about how we came back," Holiday said. "But what we're trying to do every time we come on the floor is put a full game together."

Indiana's bench unit was clicking offensively to close the third period and carried that momentum in the final period. A lot of it had to do with Holiday making a trio of three-pointers over the final 2:19 of the frame -- leading a 12-5 run. 

The odds were against the Pacers as the game entered the final quarter. Brogdon and Sabonis both were struggling to execute offensively and two charge calls on Myles Turner put him in foul trouble. On top of it all, Indiana trailed 86-75 at this point. 

To begin the fourth quarter, the Pacers' bench continued the momentum they had established. Using an 18-10 run, Indiana managed to trail just 96-93 with 6:44 left to play. The team continued to roll with their bench unit and it ended up paying off. 

"Honestly, I think it was just the pace," McConnell said. "(We) kind of kept pushing the ball, getting open shooters shots, and just playing good basketball. Coach gave us the freedom to go out there, and just go make plays. And we love him for that." 

Using more blistering hot perimeter shooting, the Pacers ended up taking a 105-104 lead with 4:02 left to play. Both teams continued going back-and-forth all the way up to the final two-minutes of action -- resulting in a 110-110 tie with 1:54 remaining. 

The Pelicans created some separation after Steven Adams converted a tip-in and Brandon Ingram followed that up with a mid-range pull-up. Myles Turner answered back with a clutch pick-and-pop three-point jumper and the Pacers were down 114-113 with 39.1 seconds left. 

Brogdon and Sabonis both remained sidelined as Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren wanted to continue to go with their bench plus Turner. Indiana had a real chance to achieve a victory after forcing the Pelicans into a shot clock violation due to Ingram air-balling a pull-up. 

"You could see it from when they were in there — from right when they checked in late in the third to all the way through in the fourth," Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said about the bench unit. "They were in such attack mode. That group played extremely hard. They were really fighting and it was just too bad there at the end" 

With possession of the ball and 13-7 seconds left to play, the Pacers had a chance to take the lead. Turner received the ball out of a pick-and-pop sequence. Instead of shooting it like he did in the previous offensive possession, he decided to drive right to finish at the rim. 

Lonzo Ball made a tremendous defensive play by rotating to the ball and cutting off Turner before he could get all the way to the rim. With the use of great verticality, Ball was able to make it just hard enough on Turner to prevent a made finish -- clinching the Pelicans the victory. 

It took near perfect perimeter shooting execution in the fourth quarter for the Pacers to stay afloat. In fact, they went a staggering 10-of-12 (83.3%) from deep in this frame after previously going 6-of-13 (46.2%) in the third quarter. Overall, they set a new franchise record with 20 makes from beyond the arc. 

On a night when Sabonis finished with just eight points while going 3-of-13 (23.1%) from the field, the Pacers still had six players finish with a double-figure scoring total. J. Holiday led the way with 22 points while Jeremy Lamb (17), Doug McDermott (14), Brogdon (13), Turner (10), and Goga Bitadze (10) each met this mark, too. 

TJ McConnell played an important role as a playmaking catalyst off the bench. He finished his performance with a career-high 15 assists with nine coming within the fourth quarter. 

The losses are beginning to pile up quickly for the Pacers. They now are on a two-game losing streak prior to facing two elite teams on their upcoming schedule. Indiana is now 4-6 in their last 10 outings and are one loss from falling to a .500 record overall. 

The Pacers will return to action when they take on the Utah Jazz, who currently hold the NBA's best record. 

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