The Indiana Pacers defeated the Charlotte Hornets 125-113 to celebrate their seventh win of the season Wednesday night. They improved to 7-6.
The Pacers are now above .500 for the first time since February 17, 2021. They were 15-14 then. Since then they have changed coaches, swapped several players and even renamed their home stadium. Basically everything has changed for the team in almost two years since they last set a record – they looked great starting this season.
“We love to play basketball. We love the grind, we love to fight.” Jalen Smith said on that forward Bally Sports Indiana transmission after the game.
The game was close until the final minutes. It was a tie at the end of the first and third quarters, with the Hornets leading by just three at halftime. In the first 42 minutes neither team could take control and there were 17 lead changes.
However, the Pacers dominated the stretch. In the closing stages of 4:58, Indiana beat Charlotte 21:9 and ran away with the game. The team was brilliant at crunch time.
All five Pacers starters scored double digits, and Myles Turner, Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin all had 20 points. Haliburton and Turner each had a double-double. The win was a team effort, and a win like that comes with some big takeaways.
Myles Turner plays the best basketball of his career
Turner had a tough game at Halloween in Brooklyn, but he’s been on an absolute rift since then. In the five games the Pacers played in November, Turner averaged 21.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. In that span, he fired 62.5% of his shots, including 44.4% of his three-pointers.
The eight-year veteran has had a double-double in four of those five games, and the Pacers are a +27 with the big man on the court a month. This is statistically one of the best stretches of Turner’s career and helps his team win games.
The big man not only put up numbers, he was the team’s anchor in defense. He’s had at least two blocks in all five contests, and his rim guard changes the geometry of the game. Turner is on a great five-game run, and his game is a big part of why Indiana went 4-1 in November.
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Jalen Smith changed the game late
Smith checked in at 5:56 to go into the fourth quarter, with the Pacers losing by two. When he checked out at the 1:26 mark, his team was ahead by 11. That means he had a +13 in less than five minutes to finish that game. He was a key piece in helping the blue and gold complete this one.
Smith had four big points in that stretch – he hit a shot to level the game and then took two free throws to give Indiana the lead for the final time. He also had two rebounds and made some important defensive plays.
Smith didn’t play a perfect game, but when it mattered the 22-year-old performed.
Good luck stopping Bennedict Mathurin if he feels it
Rookie guard Bennedict Mathurin has had several notable quarters this season, including an 18-point breakout in the second frame against Denver last week.
Tonight the sixth overall winner did this again. Twice. To open the second quarter, Mathurin had 10 of his 20 points in a span of 3:24. It kept the Pacers in the game.
Kicking off the fourth quarter, Mathurin had 10 points in 3:13. In fact, Mathurin scored all 20 of his points in two different bursts that totaled just 6:37 of game time. When he felt it tonight, he couldn’t be stopped.
Early in the second and fourth quarters, Indiana’s defense was at its worst of the game. If it weren’t for Mathurin’s goal in those moments, the Pacers might have lost. He kept the team afloat.
The Pacers will be looking to win their third straight game when they take on the Houston Rockets in Houston on Friday.