Let’s start with the good news.
The Pacers welcomed Myles Turner back to the lineup after a balky ankle kept him out for the prior eight games.
Unfortunately, Turner’s presence wasn’t enough for the Pacers to overcome the remaining injuries which have decimated the team’s backcourt and left little firepower in reserve to keep up with the Bucks who were 102-83 winners on Saturday night.
The Pacers played without Malcolm Brogdon (back), T.J. McConnell (sore groin), Jeremy Lamb (ankle), Victor Oladipo (knee), Edmond Sumner (hand). Remember Edmond Sumner...dude was so fun to watch as he was figuring things out in the first few games.
All of the highlights and hopes for a win were bunched at the start of the game. The Pacers hung around early despite struggling to put the ball in the basket. They eventually got it to TJ Warren who hit a couple of threes to let the Pacers enjoy the fruits of solid stops at the other end.
Myles Turner made his presence felt early, as well. On one play in particular he swatted a layup attempt by Eric Bledsoe then at the other end assisted a second TJW 3. J. Michael caught the action here:
This shot from Bledsoe made it to the rim a lot last night in Houston. Not when Turner is on the frontline. ... and makes the extra pass (and Warren spaces to benefit from it) #PacersBucks pic.twitter.com/UyULRX0ECL— J. Michael (@ThisIsJMichael) November 17, 2019
But Giannis Antetokounmpo draws all of the attention and gravity of the game when he’s on the court. Domas Sabonis started the game with the individual assignment, but as Nate McMillan said before the game, everybody would be responsible for defending the Greek Freak and the help was available from all corners when Giannis made his way into the lane.
While it seemed like a relatively quiet night for Giannis, he still finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 6 asists.
Naz Mitrou-Long made his first appearance for the Pacers in the first quarter, fresh off a game in Portland, ME with the Mad Ants on Friday night. He wasn’t scared, firing (and missing) a shot on his first possession. NML playing against George Hill was solid defensively and confident running the offense at the other end. Based on his effort under wild circumstances, NLM deserves votes for 16th Man of the Year.
At one point to end the first quarter, the Pacers were playing NLM, Justin Holiday, JaKarr Sampson, Doug McDermott and Goga Bitadze. Just trying to stay afloat at that point with little experience, not to mention zero chemistry on the court.
The Pacers eventually faltered trying to keep pace with the Bucks as Antetokounmpo remained a lethal presence on the floor. But the offense hit a serious rut in the middle of the first half.
Turner put Pacers up 22-18 with 2:05 left in the first quarter, but they didn’t score again until Justin Holiday scored in the second quarter to make the score 29-24. Unfortunately, Giannis was fully engaged at this point, finishing with a flourish on offense and hammering shots away on the defensive end. These types of plays made the outcome seem inevitable.
The Pacers only scored 14 second-quarter points points to close out the half down 13 points to the Bucks. A late third quarter surge cut the deficit to eight, but the Bucks quickly assumed control and pushed the lead out of touch early in the fourth quarter.
Turner’s return was better than expected. In fact, before the game, Nate McMillan minimized expectations, saying that Turner had not done any team work and was essentially just jumping back into the fray with little preparation. Well, Turner was quite active defending the rime. He finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks.
The Pacers host the Nets on Monday and then have a few days off which will hopefully help clear the injury list.