The Indiana Pacers responded well to a pair of frustrating losses, blowing out the Utah Jazz for a second time to sweep the season series. The Pacers opened hot from the field, shooting over 70% in the first quarter thanks in large part to their ability to force turnovers and get easy buckets in transition.
They led by eight after one, and followed a similar script to their own loss to San Antonio by holding the Jazz at bay in each push they’d make. When Utah cut the lead to three early in the second, the Pacers responded with a 17-6 run, capped by three consecutive jumpers by Myles Turner to help them win the second quarter.
Out of the break, the Jazz again cut the lead to single digits at 69-60, but Indiana was there to respond, scoring the next 12 to put them up 21. Another hot shooting display in the fourth helped seal the win for the Pacers, who needed a good showing to kickstart their West Coast trip on a positive note.
The Pacers got back to what worked in their previous meeting against the Jazz, moving the ball with impressive efficiency to set up good looks and quick opportunities. No one benefited more than Doug McDermott, who scored a season high 21 points off the bench. McDermott shot 8-13 from the floor, but had just two threes.
He was assisted on seven of his eight field goals, but also worked well with the ball in his hands, working with Domantas Sabonis on this beautiful give-and-go.
The McDermott/Sabonis tandem was big tonight. The two connected on five field goals; both of McDermott’s assists went to Sabonis and three of Sabonis’s six went to McDermott. That helped Indiana tally 34 assists on the night. Sabonis has averaged 5.4 assists in the last five games, pairing well with another double double of 13 points, 10 rebounds.
Sabonis also found Cory Joseph twice in the opening quarter to help push Indiana ahead by nine late in the first. Joseph had 10 of his 13 in the first half, hitting a team high three threes. The efficiency of the Pacers was on display in a big way from three point range, shooting a steady 9-18 from deep as a team.
The Pacers have never been shy about the midrange game and it worked in their favor tonight. They shot 13-22 for the game, led by Turner, who shot 5-6 outside of the paint, including four jumpers extended out from the elbow. Turner’s three consecutive jumpers in the second quarter were huge for Indiana, giving them a chance to break a back-and-forth monotony, extending their lead to double figures.
Those three jumpers all came on pick-and-pop plays from Darren Collison, notable not just for how the Pacers exploited their matchup with Rudy Gobert, but in how Turner looked comfortable within the offense, which has been such a rarity as he often combats with living on the pick-and-pop jumper vs. driving the lane. The success of this stretch, in addition to the lack of success when Gobert switched onto Thaddeus Young, leading to a Young miss on the same pick-and-pop play, can hopefully give Turner a better grasp of where he can best find success within the offense.
Collison himself had a solid game, scoring a steady eight on 4-6 shooting, but dished a game high 11 assists and had four steals. Collison’s steals came in pairs, picking up in the opening minutes and then two more to cap Indiana’s 12-0 run late in the third. All four steals led to points, the Pacers as a team outscoring Utah 25-16 off of turnovers.
In the starting lineup, everyone but Young shot 50% or better, including a 5-9 night from Bojan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic continued his hot shooting with a pair of threes and getting a couple of his four assists late as the Pacers piled on the Jazz in the closing quarter. Tyreke Evans scored 14 on 5-10 shooting, but again outside of Young, had the lowest assist totals among the starters.
Evans made a number of solid plays, but on a night when Indiana was moving the ball with such success, his tendency to take control of a possession worked against the team’s favor at times. Young did have some positives himself despite the number of words against him, including a nice finish through an unnecessary Gobert shoulder that summed up the night better than maybe any other play.
THAD finishing through contact pic.twitter.com/yCfJySL6Tv— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) November 27, 2018
Aaron Holiday was the seventh Pacer in double figures, finishing with 12. He piled on late with eight in the fourth, but did so with some fantastic drives. It was nice to see his confidence pay off in the form of a good shooting night after some struggles in Indiana’s last two losses. Since joining the rotation sans Victor Oladipo, the rookie has averaged 13 points on 51% shooting.
The Pacers move to 12-8 with the win, starting them off at 1-0 on their four game West Coast trip. Tonight’s excitement will be short lived as they’ll be heading southwest for a matchup with the Phoenix Suns tomorrow night. The Suns are just 4-15 on the season, but all four of their wins have come against at or above .500.