The Indiana Pacers got back in the win column after their frustrating loss to Philadelphia, topping the Dallas Mavericks at home. The Pacers led most of the way in this one, but weren’t without challenges from the Mavs throughout the game.
Dallas got the upper hand early, jumping ahead 19-12, connecting on three threes to push the lead to seven. Indiana looked to be carrying a hangover from their loss to Philly, blanking on their own shots from three, but did get three points the old fashioned way on a Myles Turner and-one that settled the Pacers down, allowing them to close the quarter on a 12-4 run.
The push continued in the second quarter, including Indiana’s first three pointer of the game courtesy of Tyreke Evans, allowing the crowd to explode with a “Boom baby!” on a night the team celebrated Bobby “Slick” Leonard during Basketball Day Indiana.
Defensively, the Pacers were as good as they’ve been in some time, forcing Dallas into nine first half turnovers, giving Indiana 12 points and helping them push their lead into double figures. They also imposed themselves on the other end, especially behind the effort of Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis had 11 points and nine rebounds in the first half, including this rebound and-one against the Dallas defense.
The Pacers led by 16 at the break and pushed the lead as high at 19 halfway through the third. That lead proved short lived however. Dallas responded with a 9-0 run that cut the lead to 10. Fortunately, Luka Doncic missed both free throws allowing the Pacers to push it back to 13 on a Victor Oladipo three.
The Oladipo three was the only three of the night between he and Bojan Bogdanovic, who continued to struggle mightily shooting. The pair combined for 6-25 shooting and 1-8 from deep. They had three misses alone in the 9-0 Mavs run, so it was nice to see one finally go for at least one of them.
Indiana again looked to have the game in hand when they went up 17 early in the fourth, but again, Dallas responded, outscoring the Pacers 10-2 to make it a single digit game for the first time in the half. Indiana kept the game from getting any closer thanks to big minutes from Evans, who had nine of 11 Pacers points, getting the lead up to 13 in time for a pair of Oladipo steals that set up Bogdanovic and Cory Joseph buckets.
Despite his struggles shooting, Oladipo did continue to make an impact with eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals. All three steals turned into points, allowing Indiana to outscore the Mavericks 21-16 in points off turnovers, including a 13-6 advantage in the fast break. Oladipo also did well on the defensive end, helping limit Doncic to eight points on 3-14 shooting.
There was no “yeah, but” with Evans, however. He had a team high 19 points on 7-11 shooting, just his third game above 60% on the season, though all of those have come in the past three weeks. Evans had nine points in the fourth, 12 adding in the last minute of the third. It was also one of the few games where Evans found success within the flow of the second unit offense, getting assisted on both of his threes.
Evans was was joined off the bench by Sabonis with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Sabonis had looked a bit out of sorts the past couple of games, but was absolutely vintage in his performance tonight in the way he made plays in the post for himself and for others. While only five Pacers reached double figures, it proved a real balanced attack with all nine rotation players scoring at least eight, all of them getting there their own way.
Doug McDermott struggled early, but found success in the fourth quarter, scoring six straight Pacers points to open the quarter as part of his nine. Joseph had his pullup game on point, scoring eight with four assists, three of those going to Sabonis. In the starting lineup, Darren Collison led the way with 16 points, breaking the Pacers out of an early third quarter funk with back-to-back threes, scoring 10 of 12 to push the lead to 19.
Turner finished with 12, helping keep Indiana within striking distance in the first quarter, hitting a rainbow three late in the second to make it an 18-point game. Oladipo did a great job setting up Turner throughout the game, finding him for four assists. Oladipo scored 12, joined by a difficult nine from Bogdanovic, who got a bulk of his points from the line at 5-5. Thaddeus Young had eight points and seven rebounds, getting four off of three offensive rebounds.
For the game, the Pacers shot 49.4% from the field, holding Dallas to just 42%. The Mavericks were also 9-37 from three point range, becoming just the second team in the last 10 games to fail to reach double figures from deep. In a particularly hellish stretch in which opponents have shot almost 41% from three, this reprieve was a welcome sight, though the Mavs weren’t without dangerous stretches despite the misses.
The win puts Indiana at 30 wins on the season, reaching that mark two weeks ahead of last year’s schedule. They’ll have a quick turnaround however, playing the second night of a back-to-back tomorrow against the Charlotte Hornets, though they’ll get to remain home for the game.