Crunchtime is no stranger to the Indiana Pacers. They currently rank third in the NBA in games involving clutch situations (26) this season, and they also finished third last year. Tight games were common for blue and gold.
This year they will benefit from the experience in difficult situations. On Sunday night, when the Charlotte Hornets were in town for a fight, that lead became an important part of the game.
With 1:12 to go in the fourth quarter, the Hornets led the Pacers 107-104. From that point on, Indiana played essentially perfect basketball. To open this period of play, Tyrese Haliburton found Myles Turner in the pick and roll, and the big man converted a layup while being fouled. He drilled the free throw and tied the game.
At the other end, Buddy Hield blocked a jump shot from LaMelo Ball, and in a scramble for the loose ball, Ball fouled Hield. It was Ball’s sixth foul of the night, meaning his night was over. Hield hit a free throw to give the Pacers the lead.
You never gave up that leadership. Haliburton then tapped the ball away from Terry Rozier at the defensive end, and Aaron Nesmith eventually corraled it for a steal. Haliburton followed with two free throws. Then Nesmith knocked down two shots at the foul line. Shortly after, Myles Turner blocked Mason Plumlee on the edge for the night’s game before Nesmith put down two foul shots again.
All in all, the Pacers beat the Hornets 12-4 in the final 71 seconds of the game to take the win. The final score was 116-111 as the Blue and Golds claimed their eighth win in ten games.
“I think we’re just us, man,” Turner said of the team’s play in crunch time. “I think we’re looking forward to the moments.”
Turner was excellent all night. He finished the game with 29 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. He was up +20 that night, and his late block against Plumlee was the game that mattered. His attack was accurate while his defense was effective throughout the night.
In the second quarter, the eight-year-old professional turned the luck of the team. The Pacers were down 34-21 when the big man checked in and they desperately needed a boost. After he came on, Indiana held Charlotte to five points in 5:20, and the Pacers cut the lead from 13 points in that span to one. Without this route, the blue and gold might have lost on Sunday.
The Pacers offense had less flow than usual during the game, and it felt like the team was going red light, green light with their hits. Indiana, for example, didn’t score at the closing 6:10 of the first quarter and only scored seven points at the closing 5:26 of the third frame.
But best of all they hummed. The Pacers, for example, scored 43 points in the fourth quarter and closed out the first half with 12 points in about four minutes. It was a running game for blue and gold, and they had just enough successful bursts to win.
Turner was the Pacers’ best player for most of the night, but other players had good plays. Tyrese Haliburton finished the game with 16 points and 13 assists, he wasn’t needed that much on offense this game as the Hornets blitzed on defense.
The other three Pacers starters (Hield, Nesmith and Andrew Nembhard) combined for 55 points. Hield was inaccurate for much of the game, but they all provided Indiana with the needed goal on a night the bench managed just 16 points.
Speaking of bench, Oshae Brissett had a winning game with five points and 10 rebounds at team level. He made several timely plays on the glass.
The Pacers are now halfway through their season and standing 23-18. They currently sit sixth in the Eastern Conference and next play in New York on Wednesday.
- Report: Myles Turner and Indiana Pacers open talks over contract extension CLICK HERE.
- Oshae Brissett’s contract was fully guaranteed and was not canceled by the Indiana Pacers before the guarantee period expired. CLICK HERE.
- Pacers guard Trevelin Queen on Tyrese Haliburton: “He’s just a great leader.” CLICK HERE.
- Pacers center Isaiah Jackson focuses on the simple things to stay engaged and be effective. CLICK HERE.
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