Unfortunately, it's just a little tougher to find much else about the short-handed Indiana Pacers traveling to Fargo, North Dakota for their preseason opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves worth getting excited about. From the outset, the Pacers were short three starters; Danny Granger due to his knee, but also George Hill and David West, healthy scratches for the contest.
The blue and gold were left to shake off the rust in a game that featured 42 total turnovers that turned into 38% shooting combined. The Pacers enjoyed a brief 3-2 lead before the Timberwolves took control the rest of the night, almost meticulously building upon their lead throughout the night until it culminated into a 21-point 4th quarter difference. Outcomes aren't important in preseason (phew!), but it would be great to see a little bit of a better showing moving forward than the Pacers showed tonight. It's far from a good showing when you end up with more turnovers (24) than field goals (23).
Granted, the lack of three starters played a huge factor, as too did coach Frank Vogel's willingness to get a good, long look at the depths of his training camp bench. It's just too bad there wasn't a consistent effort from that bench or, well, just about anybody, to make up for it. Paul George led the way for the Pacers with 16 points, twelve of those in the first half. George, who spent the offseason working on his ball handling skills, still found himself stuck in the need to make cutesy and flashy plays, giving him a game high five turnovers.
D.J. Augustin had a nice debut, hitting a pair of three pointers early and showing his skills as a point guard, something the Pacers are certainly expecting. Roy Hibbert looked out of touch when going against Nikola Pekovic, picking up numerous early fouls, finishing with five points and four boards. Tyler Hansbrough crashed the boards well on a night the Wolves controlled the advantage from the outset, but didn't offer much in the way of offense. Gerald Green rounded out the starters, giving an early jam as his sole highlight.
Outside of the starting lineup, Ian Mahinmi looked suited in the backup role, but poor hands gave him three turnovers. Lance Stephenson made a couple of nice shots in a 2-7 shooting effort, and Orlando Johnson picked up from his awful shooting showcase in the Orlando Summer League with a handful of missed shots. There were some positive moments off the bench from Jeff Pendergraph and first round pick Miles Plumlee, though like much of the night, a moment or two couldn't outweigh the overwhelmingly poor team effort.
So while the Pacers offered what will hopefully be the poorest effort they'll show between now and the end of June, it was a positive sign, as always, to see the blue and gold take the court. Indiana will return home to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for a rematch with the Timberwolves on Friday as the preseason continues.