In a tale of two halves, the Indiana Pacers turned one of their worst first half performances of the year into a high-energy second half, topping the Golden State Warriors to win their third straight game. It’s more than necessary to point out Golden State’s injury issues; they played tonight’s game without all four of their All-Stars, but it was still important to see the Pacers (eventually) take advantage of the situation to come away with the win.
The Pacers were either overlooking the shorthanded Warriors or fearing the name on the front of the jersey early, because they began sluggish in every facet of the game. Shots weren’t falling, which hasn’t been uncommon to start games, but there was no fight, no energy, and no real sense of purpose from Indiana for the first 23 minutes and 10 seconds of the game.
Nick Young kickstarted a quick start for the Warriors, which spread to rebounding, then spreading to defense, giving Golden State a dominating showing on the glass and in blocked shots. The Pacers were a step slow, but the lack of firepower allowed the Pacers to stay within striking distance despite falling behind by 15 in the second quarter.
The very first sign of life for the Pacers came in the final minute of the half, with Thaddeus Young coming up big on an offensive rebound, slamming it home to cut the deficit to 11.
Myles Turner would follow with a jumper to cut the lead to nine heading into the break, again putting them right in the thick of things despite stumbling to just 39 first half points. That flicker of momentum proved important, bringing out a completely different Pacers team in the second half, keying off an 18-6 run that put them into the lead for the first time.
The Pacers would jump up by as many as five in the third quarter, but faltered to end the quarter, surrendering a 7-0 run in the final three minutes that again found them playing from behind. In the fourth, Indiana again started quick, scoring six straight to take the lead, again pushing their lead to five.
Defense would allow the Pacers to weather a dry spell in the middle of the fourth, capitalizing on Golden State’s limited offense before finally breaking through by taking a three possession lead. As the Pacers held the Warriors in check to close out the win, Indiana had outscored Golden State 53-33 in the second half, flipping the script entirely and beginning their four game road trip with a win.
Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 24 points, six rebounds, and six assists. While the Pacers languished throughout the first half, Oladipo was the singular spark they had, with him starting hot and staying hot on 9-12 shooting. Unfortunately a pair of fouls limited just what he could bring to the team in the first half, settling into a groove with five assists coming in the second half.
Thaddeus Young also brought the Pacers some life in the first half, scoring seven of his 17 in the second quarter to help Indiana stay within striking distance as the Warriors had their way. Young also made the most of Indiana’s second chance opportunities, pulling in offensive rebounds on three possessions, leading to Indiana to five points, necessary to keep pace with Golden State’s domination the glass.
Bojan Bogdanovic found himself in the second half after getting throttled early by Nick Young, scoring 15 of his 17 in the second half, including half of Indiana’s six threes while Young finished with just 12 on the night. The second half burst from someone(!), anyone(!) was important as both Darren Collison and Turner struggled in a big way, finishing 3-14 shooting combined.
Off the bench, the Pacers welcomed back Domantas Sabonis, who had seven points in his return, looking more comfortable as the game progressed, dishing three assists. Two of those were to Lance Stephenson to start the fourth, helping to cap that important 6-0 run.
Glenn Robinson III meanwhile looked like he was a made shot away from a breakthrough, especially in being one of the three players who looked ready in the first half. While his shot making didn’t continue in the second half, he still continues to trend in a positive direction, topping off his night with a breakaway dunk in the fourth quarter.
While the Warriors are in desperate need of health, the Pacers entered tonight’s game with a full roster available. Unfortunately, it didn’t end that way, with an ankle injury claiming another Pacers player, as Trevor Booker went out in the second quarter after just two minutes. He did not return.
A familiar adage in sports is that it’s not who you play, it’s when you play them, and the Pacers could not have caught the Warriors on a better night. The Pacers found a win in one of the most difficult arenas in the NBA, against a team that obliterated them in last season’s matchups, at time when all Indiana needs to do is win games by any means necessary.
The Pacers now sit at 44-31 on the year and are back to .500 on the road, getting a 1-0 start on their West Coast swing. With the Wizards winning at home, Indiana was able to keep Washington at a 2.5 game distance all while keeping pace with the streaking Sixers and moving back to within a half game of Cleveland for third, who fell tonight against Miami.
Cleveland and Philadelphia are both in action tomorrow night in winnable games, giving the Pacers all they need as they ready themselves to face the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night. It’ll be another late tip for Indiana locals; hopefully the Pacers will be better prepared for it themselves.