It was an early and often kind of night for the Indiana Pacers, who took advantage of a shorthanded New York Knicks to get back into the win column as they open up their homestand. The Knicks were without both Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway, Jr., making offense a real struggle. The Knicks scored a bulk of their points early in the paint, struggling outside with just three shots from deep in the first three quarters
That struggle to score worked in the Pacers favor, with all five starters reaching double figures within the first three quarters. Indiana led by as many as 38 in the third quarter, doing so with good shooting and ball movement, but by forcing, and taking advantage of turnovers. Indiana had 10 steals, helping them to 26 points off turnovers, all while blitzing the Knicks in transition, outscoring them 31-5 in fast break points.
The Pacers had 28 assists on the night, led by Darren Collison, who had a 10 point, 10 assist double double with three steals. Collison was the only starter shooting under 50% for the night at 4-10, with the rest of the starters shooting 60% or better. Thaddeus Young finished with 20 points, doing so on 9-11 shooting with six rebounds and a pair of steals himself, including 2-2 from three.
Victor Oladipo hit three threes, scoring 16 points and Bojan Bogdanovic also had three from beyond the arc, finishing with 19. Myles Turner wrapped up the starter explosion with 12 points himself. The regular three man rotation off the bench all played well, with Cory Joseph scoring 12 points.
Domantas Sabonis bounced back big after struggling against Toronto, completing a 12 point, 12 rebound double double. Sabonis and Joseph had a great two-man game on Joseph’s two threes, but Sabonis’s basketball IQ was on display with not only his passing, but his shot awareness as well. Lance Stephenson helped cap off a big first half by bringing the crowd to its feet as part of his nine point game.
About the only place where the Pacers weren’t coming up aces was the play of T.J. Leaf, who struggled in his extended minutes, shooting 0-5, but he did come up with five rebounds. Leaf was in position to succeed on many of his shots, but just couldn’t find the bottom of the net tonight, something he’s done well with throughout the year with his limited minutes.
The Pacers of years past could have looked at this game and lulled through it, which speaks to this team’s energy and ability to make the most of every night, taking care of business in clear “take care of business” games. They’ll be in position to do the same on Wednesday, when they host the last place Chicago Bulls.