The Indiana Pacers of the Orlando Summer League pieced together a pretty impressive turnaround considering the ominous state of the team's first five quarters. It may have ultimately cost them the Summer League Championship, but the team really came together, piecing together four straight wins to finish 4-1 and win third place in the Orlando Summer League.
They did so in a rematch with the Boston Celtics, the team that helped spark their turnaround, getting off to a fantastic start in the first quarter, jumping up by as many as seven, and holding off Boston pushes to win the first quarter 27-22. Indiana pushed their lead to 12 in the second, but was unable to build on it when the Celtics made a push in the third quarter.
Boston used a 14-4 run to take a 64-62 lead, but it would be short lived as Indiana responded with a 9-2 run to take a five point lead. The Celtics drew the game back to within a point at 82-81 with 4:25 remaining in the game, but Indiana would hold Boston scoreless from the field for the next four minutes, using an 11-0 run to put the game away and clinch their fourth straight win.
After taking the day off yesterday, Donald Sloan returned to action as the life force for the Pacers, leading them with a 20 point, 10 assist double double, even more impressively, coming up with a zero turnover game to go with five rebounds. Indiana was sharp with the ball, committing just 10 turnovers, but were able to force only six from the Celtics side.
All five Pacers starters reached double figures, including 18 from DeQuan Jones and 14 from Frank Gaines. Indiana had seven blocks, led by three from Willie Reed, who pitched in 10 points. All in all on the night, Indiana did a solid job preventing much offense from going Boston's way, holding them to just 37% shooting, but the Celtics employed an Atlanta Hawks showcase, going 10-33 from range.
Boston's first round pick Marcus Smart had 20 points on the day, but struggled shooting, going just 6-18 from the floor, most of his production coming from deep, hitting four of his nine three point attempts. Boston also got 19 from Kelly Olynyk and a handful of double doubles, including Mike Moser (16 points and 10 rebounds), Paul Pressey (12 points and 13 assists), and O.D. Anosike (13 points and 10 rebounds).
Admittedly, the luster of this year's Summer League was certainly dampened by lack of team draft pick or future young player to make it must watch TV. It's difficult to look at this roster and see anyone who's going to make much headway and landing a roster spot with the Pacers when the regular season opens short of a return for Sloan, but that was similarly the case with Rasual Butler last season.
Sloan was in high spirits following the win, deserving plenty of credit with Dan Burke for helping to keep the team afloat and getting them to a solid standing among this year's Orlando Summer League.
Up next among Pacers interest will be the return of NBA free agency after LeBron James's decision to return to Cleveland and whether or not the Pacers will be able to retain Lance Stephenson. For actual basketball, the FIBA Basketball World Cup will tip off on August 30, featuring Luis Scola playing for Argentina and likely Paul George playing for Team USA.