Fans finally got a glimpse (or rather a listen?) of the new-look Indiana Pacers, who got a nice road win to start their exhibition schedule, topping the New Orleans Pelicans 113-96. The Pacers looked understandably rusty to start, piling up bricks early, but after fighting to a 26-26 tie in the first quarter, the Pacers won the final three, eventually jumping their shooting percentage above New Orleans at 43.3%, while attempting 104 field goals, a total that was reached only six times in the Frank Vogel era.
But what helped parlay Indiana's poor shooting into success was a solid combination of rebounding and ball control. The Pacers won the rebounding battle over the Pelicans 59-44, using 16 offensive rebounds to outscore New Orleans 58-28 in points in the paint. The Pelicans on the other hand had just three, none of those coming in the first half. Indiana also had just 11 turnovers for the game, topping New Orleans 16-6 in points off of turnovers.
While the Pacers did hold the Pelicans to 40.8% shooting, it wasn't because of stellar defense. The Indiana backcourt had their fair share of defensive lapses and poor gambles, which will be something to keep an eye on as the team progresses through their preseason schedule. But while perimeter defense may be an issue that persists, the speed of the starting backcourt was also on display with Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis combining for 18 points, 10 of those coming in the paint.
Paul George struggled shooting at 2-9, but did get to the line six times as part of his 11 points, but it was a night to showcase the newcomers. While Teague was just 5-14 overall shooting, he did lead the team (with Lavoy Allen) with four assists as the Pacers totaled 25 for the night. Thaddeus Young had a 12 point, 10 rebound double double, even showcasing his range on his only three point attempt.
Off the bench, rookie Georges Niang overcame a rocky start to near a double double of his own with 12 points and eight boards while Al Jefferson led the team with 14 points on 7-12 shooting, doing all of his work in the paint (missing his two jumpers). Joe Young was also in preseason form, scoring 12 points on 50% shooting as he looks to translate his play to the regular season while C.J. Miles had a pair of three pointers early.
Very little, if any, of what took place tonight will be of any consequence when the regular season tips off in just over three weeks. We'll start to get a stronger sense of what their strengths and weaknesses will be leading up to October 26 and beyond, but the Pacers made a positive first impression. They'll have a chance to build upon that when they host the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.