There would be no ambush in Utah for the Pacers playing their second game in as many nights. Indiana put forth a strong effort right from the tip to earn a ten point lead after one quarter.
While Derrick Favors was a problem early, the Pacers spread the wealth and the community effort saw the starters split of 26 of the 31 first quarter points nearly evenly.
Good things happen to teams that put forth good effort and I’d call Corey Joseph’s buzzer beater before the half a good thing.
A five-man reserve unit started the second quarter as the bench started rotating in late in the first quarter. They were able to extend the lead to 15 early as Joe Young came in cooking as we see his comfort level and overall game start to match his confidence.
But no one would believe the Pacers could ease their way through back-to-back games, let alone on the road and that great early start gave way to a Jazz run in the middle of the second quarter which made things a battle.
Donovan Mitchell, who is a bucket gathering machine, cut the Pacers early lead to one with two of his 16 first-half points at six minute mark. But the Pacers answered with a 12-0 run and were able to hold on to a 58-47 advantage at the half.
That double-digit lead quickly climbed to 20 as Victor Oladipo came out firing with seven points in the first couple of minutes of the third quarter.
But Mitchel matched the heat and kept the Jazz in touch as best he could. The rookie led the Jazz with 23 points making just 2 of 8 three-point shots. Still, his third-quarter scoring burst made things uneasy.
Before the third quarter ended, the Pacers asserted their will again and took a 85-65 lead to the fourth quarter after holding the Jazz to just 18 third-quarter points with three of those coming on an odd and one at the buzzer by Joe Johnson.
The Jazz kept coming at the Pacers getting the lead down to 13 as Nate McMillan rotated the reserves later than usual, hoping they could close up shop. A couple of buckets by Lance Stephenson pushed the lead back to 17 but Oladipo, Thad Young and Sabonis returned for the stretch run.
The trio was big all night for the Pacers so it was fitting for them to be part of putting the Jazz to bed. Oladipo finished with 28 points, 6 assist and 6 rebounds. Sabonis endured a physical night around the hoop at both ends but finished with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Young made three early 3-balls and finished with 17 points on just 10 shots.
After winning their first two of five road games, the usual hope for bringing home a 3-2 record is now well within reach, so let’s get greedy.
The Pacers resume their road trip in Portland where they will play the Blazers on Thursday and then face the Lakers on Friday. A back-to-back against the Lakers may actually be better than a couple of off days in L.A. before playing the local team. We’ve seen that problem before and with the Spurs on tap on Sunday, getting at least one of those games in Portland or L.A. is critical to a successful roadie.