The Indiana Pacers bounced back after their loss yesterday to Houston, settling in after a rocky start to take care of the San Antonio Spurs to move to 1-1 in the Las Vegas Summer League. The Pacers struggled to find a rhythm against the Spurs much of the first half, but were able to lock in with a 22-8 third quarter win to help lift them to the 86-76 victory.
Unsurprisingly, the Pacers looked to get T.J. Leaf going, setting him up for the first two scores of the game as part of a 17-point effort. Leaf did a great job of putting the ball on the floor and attacking the rim, finding extensive success at the rim. However, his three point shot continues to look a bit skittish, shooting 1-4, the lone make being the only shot he took in rhythm.
On the flip side, yesterday’s star, Aaron Holiday, came back down to earth with a 10-point, 3-15 game. There were positives in Holiday’s play, but he was far less efficient in terms of shooting, but did more as a playmaker, dishing seven assists to four turnovers.
Three of those assists were dished to three pointers, including Leaf’s lone three and one to Ben Moore, who was much more involved, finishing with 10. Moore was engaged early, but didn’t have much to show for it until the early stages of the third, scoring seven in the quarter.
Moore also had some nice hustle plays, including one late where he leapt over the bench and the Gatorade buckets to save a loose ball. The Pacers played a step slow against the Spurs early, but picked up their energy as the game progressed. Moore was involved in that, but the fight the Pacers showed was no doubt led by Alize Johnson.
Johnson had a near double double of 10 points and nine rebounds, pulling in four on the offensive glass, but most importantly, just dominating the game with his energy. Anything good that happened for the Pacers seemed to come on the back of Johnson’s hustle, and there was no one more fun to watch in this one than Johnson.
The only downsides to Johnson’s game was forcing the offense. He shot just 3-11, which tallied up on some awkward shots, but also came on a pair of missed highlight plays, in which Tra-Deon Hollins set him up perfectly for a big play.
The bench as a whole for the Pacers did a great job setting up the Pacers for victory, not just including Johnson’s minutes, but also in a really good stretch from Hollins in the second half. Hollins had four assists in 10 minutes, zipping the ball to four different players for scores. His passing made him the only Pacer to not score on the night, setting up both Bryce Alford and Henry Sims for their lone buckets.
Also off the bench, the Pacers got seven points from Levi Randolph as well as a calming veteran showing from C.J. Wilcox. Wilcox shot 4-4 from the floor, 2-2 from three, and most importantly, 3-3 from the free throw line, tallying a 13-point night. Indiana’s free throw shooting has been pretty dreadful in this Summer League, so to see Wilcox step in and finish on his trips was refreshing. Holiday was the only other Pacer to go perfect from the line at 2-2.
The Pacers will wrap up the regular season portion of the Las Vegas Summer League on Monday when they face the Cleveland Cavaliers. Today’s game showed guys in their ability to adjust to a different set of circumstances, be the more favorable or less, on the second night of a back-to-back, so Monday’s game will see some fresher legs look to grab their second straight win.