The Indiana Pacers wrapped up their three game home stand with a bang, blowing out the Utah Jazz with their best performance in nearly a month. According to Nate McMillan, they executed their game plan to perfection, playing with a fantastic tempo on both ends of the floor. The Pacers kicked off the game in style, forcing the Jazz into eight first quarter turnovers, outscoring them 16-0 in points of turnovers.
That ability to capitalize off turnovers proved key in the second quarter. The Pacers pushed their lead to 20 early in the second, but Utah worked back in the game, trimming the lead to six with three minutes remaining in the half. From there, Indiana pushed their lead back to double figures led into the break by Myles Turner, who scored four and dishing a fantastic pass to Domantas Sabonis.
The third quarter was led by Bojan Bogdanovic, helping keep the Pacers up double figures despite a massive showing from Ricky Rubio. Indiana continued to play free, but Rubio kept the game from every getting out of hand in the third, scoring 12 of his 28. Fortunately for the Pacers, no one else on the Jazz stepped up outside of some shooting from Jae Crowder, allowing Indiana to weather the Rubio Explosion, and expand their lead to 16 heading into the fourth.
Once there, the Pacers closed out with a purpose, outscoring the Jazz 35-24 to wrap up the dominating 121-94 victory. The Pacers shot 52.7% for the game, doing so on 93 attempts, one shy of their season high. It was just the fifth time they reached 90 shots, getting there in large part due to their ability to force turnovers.
Utah had 19 turnovers on the night, compared to just nine for Indiana. The Pacers continued to capitalize off of those turnovers, outscoring the Jazz 33-11 for the game, including a 12-4 advantage in fast break points. The Pacers also had their way on the glass, outrebounding the Jazz by eight, that advantage coming entirely on the offensive glass.
They held Utah to just three offensive rebounds, impressive if only for the fact Rudy Gobert entered the game averaging 3.7 offensive boards on his own. The Pacers had 11, which led to 14 second change points. They used a superior effort to work towards some of these opportunities, including this rebound from Darren Collison.
The Pacers played loose, which hasn’t been the case of late, especially in some of the more recent games. That led to a season high in assists (35) and a 12-25 night from three point range. They weren’t shy to let the shots fly early either, putting up 10 three attempts in the first quarter.
That led to all nine rotation players getting an attempt with seven splashing home a three. Bojan Bogdanovic led the way with three, leading to a team high 21 points on 9-14 shooting. He hit three threes and had a pair of steals. He scored nine in the third quarter, which again proved key to help keep Utah at bay in the midst of Rubio’s play.
The bench again led the way with three double figure scorers, led by Domantas Sabonis, who had a near triple double of 19 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists. Sabonis was 7-9, working tremendously within the flow of the offensive to get whatever he wanted, including a 2-2 night from three point range.
He was joined by Aaron Holiday, who followed up his tremendous showing against Atlanta with a career high 19 points in 21 minutes, going 7-10 from the floor with a pair of threes, and seven rebounds. Holiday was limited in minutes in the first half due to picking up three quick fouls, but remained clean in the second, getting into a groove and—
Oh! Well, suffice to say, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify overlooking Holiday despite him being a rookie. His scoring abilities have been huge boosts these last two games, especially when compared to the expectations placed on Tyreke Evans to pick up that scoring load.
That’s not to say Evans hasn’t taken advantage of opportunities at times; he hit a pair of big threes tonight, but finished with eight points and five assists on 3-12 shooting. The Pacers brought in Evans as a secondary scorer, but he’s been closer to his 2016-17 numbers rather than last season. His scoring being down isn’t a real surprise, but his shooting numbers are also down to his 2016-17 levels, off 50 points from last year and 40 points for his career.
Holiday will obviously come back down in terms of his shooting, but he’s playing as someone who can get his own shot and still play off the ball. McMillan recognized Holiday’s contributions, discussing the chances of expanding the rotation to 10 to accommodate Holiday. The depth and the overall minutes earned has been a good problem for the Pacers to have as no one has really played down even with the minutes they’ve gotten.
In the starting lineup, Darren Collison finished with nine points and seven assists while both Thaddeus Young and Turner reached double figures with 12. Turner and Young continue to make a tangible impact on the Indiana defense with Young coming up with three steals while Turner had three blocks. For the third straight game, the Pacers held an opponent under 100, tonight marking the first night of the home stand an opponent shot over 40%.
It’s worth noting all of this was done without Victor Oladipo, not to take away from the success of the guys on the floor but to highlight just how refreshing it was to see the team succeed despite his absence. The Pacers were 0-7 last season with Oladipo out, which directly affected Indiana’s final record, eventually forcing them into the 5th seed and that road Game 7 against Cleveland.
Oladipo is day-to-day, which can hopefully be a positive as the Pacers hit the road on Wednesday, facing the Charlotte Hornets in North Carolina. Kemba Walker has been on fire this season, but especially of late. He scored 60 against Philadelphia, following up with a 43 tonight, including 21 in the fourth quarter to help guide Charlotte back against Boston.