In their final preseason game, the Indiana Pacers were able to cobble together some positives as they hold off a second half Charlotte Hornets surge to wrap up exhibition play at 3-4 with an 88-79 victory over the home Hornets. Luis Scola helped the Indiana production early, scoring 13 in the first quarter as part of his 15 point, 12 rebound double double to help Indiana to a 10 point advantage. The lead would grow to 22 in the second quarter, with C.J. Miles scoring 14 of his 17 first half points in the quarter en route to a game high 23.
The Pacers' shot upwards of 60% much of the first half, building their lead while the Hornets tried to reach 30%. The shooting would even out, more on Indiana's side, as they dropped to 45% for the night, as the Hornets slowly chipped away at the 19-point halftime advantage, pulling to within two at 75-73 at the 5:33 mark of the fourth quarter. Miles and Solomon Hill would guide Indiana on an 8-2 run to push the lead back to eight, sealing the win for the Pacers.
This preseason has had no shortage of peaks and valleys for the blue and gold, but it was nice to see Indiana wrap up preseason play on a positive note. Indiana's hot first half play were cued by both Scola and Miles, who scored a combined 30 first half points after scoring just 10 all night against Minnesota on Tuesday. Scola particularly was spot on with his jumper in the first quarter and Miles put in three three pointers in the first half.
For both players, however, it's nothing the Pacers hadn't seen before. Indiana's gotten big games from Scola in a Pacers uniform and they've seen first hand what Miles is capable of as a member of the Cavs the past few years when he seemed poised for a breakout game whenever he suited up against Indiana. But that inconsistency is something Indiana's going to have a hard time accounting for this season and it's going to play directly into Indiana's peaks and valleys throughout the season.
Only Solomon Hill in the starting unit was shy at getting shots up, but had one of his better preseason games for his ability to get to the line, totaling eight points on 1-3 shooting with 6-7 from the free throw line. Hill's preseason has been frustrating to say the least, showing absolutely nothing on either side of the ball to take as a sign of him being someone who is ready to be relied on for starter minutes.
If Hill does in fact find himself in the starting lineup for Wedsnesday's season opener, it would seem to speak towards Indiana's lack of options as far as capable starters or quality backups go. Chris Copeland continued his positive preseason play, scoring 11 while only hitting one three pointer. Copeland has shown enough on the offensive side of the ball to earn a rotation spot, at least far more than Hill and Damjan Rudez, though Copeland may be a bit too redundant as a starter.
Roy Hibbert had another solid rebounding game with nine boards as Indiana did a great job keeping the Hornets off the glass. For as many misses as Charlotte had early in the game, the Pacers kept them at one and done possessions, limiting Charlotte to three offensive boards all night. Hibbert was just 5-14 from the floor, however, showing a little bit of faith in his hook shot, but hardly finding any consistency.
Of course, in trying to sort out the uncertainties looming for how Indiana will look in the regular season, this preseason did come with its own uncertainties. Injuries to C.J. Watson and Rodney Stuckey limited their floor time, and injuries to David West and George Hill did no favors for Indiana to find continuity in their roster and playing time.
Injury concerns and all, the regular season will officially tip off for Indiana on Wednesday, October 29th, as they host the Philadelphia 76ers. Against a Sixers team that would forfeit if given the choice, Indiana will hope they won't have to rely on rotation continuity to start the season off on a high note, but the scrappy Sixers did play their best ball to open the season, starting 3-0 against three playoff teams, including an opening night win over the defending champion Heat.