The second night of a back-to-back blues caught the Indiana Pacers against the New Orleans Pelicans as the bottom fell out on the blue and gold after the first quarter. Indiana pieced together an impressive first quarter, outscoring the Pelicans 32-19 after a T.J. McConnell buzzer beater.
In the quarter, the Pacers did a much better job on the glass. They pulled in five offensive rebounds, leading to six second chance points. The good times didn’t last, however. To open the second, the Pacers missed their first six shots, committing a pair of turnovers. By the time Domantas Sabonis completed a three point play four minutes in, New Orleans had cut into the lead with a 7-0 run to open the quarter.
While neither team could really find much of a rhythm in the second quarter offensively, the Pelicans still managed to do just enough to chip away at the lead. That began to change for New Orleans late in the quarter. T.J. Warren pushed the lead to four at the line with 4:26 in the half and by the time the buzzer sounded, the Pelicans took the lead on a 13-6 run.
The Pacers finished up the second quarter shooting 4-24 from the floor, a bricklaying showcase that unfortunately carried over into the second half. The struggles on offense began to really carry over on defense in the third quarter, when New Orleans closed the quarter on a tear, outscoring Indiana 27-9 after Myles Turner cut the lead to two halfway through the quarter.
The Pelicans finished up the third hitting eight straight shots, pushing their advantage to 18. Doug McDermott opened the fourth with a three pointer, but back-to-back threes from Josh Hart to respond shut the door completely, leading to one of the rare blowout losses of the season.
If fatigue played a factor in the loss, it definitely took 12 minutes to sink in. The Pacers outscored New Orleans 18-2 in points in the paint, an advantage that completely went away as the game progressed. By the end of it, the Pacers held a 50-42 advantage, one beefed up by the extended garbage time.
Indiana also fell flat from three point range after the first quarter. They shot just 18% from three after the first, while the Pelicans themselves improved throughout the night, hitting 18 as a team. Outside of the lack of scoring, the defense took a hit when Turner was saddled with three first half fouls. It did provide Goga Bitadze some solid minutes to end the half, but it wasn’t enough to spark the Pacers.
The second unit as a whole really fell flat. McDermott led the way with nine points, but was just 1-4 from three point range on the night. The bench was outscored 35-22, again helped out due to the blowout minutes. Indiana had 18 turnovers after committing just four last night. Despite forcing 13, it was the points off turnovers that really showed the difference in energy, with New Orleans outscoring the Pacers 24-10.
Aaron Holiday led the way with 25 points, hitting four of Indiana’s six three pointers. Warren finished with 20, getting to the line eight times. Along with Holiday’s seven, the pair went 15-15 on a night when Indiana actually got the line with regularity, going 26-29. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t keep up from the floor, finishing at 38.8% for the night.
Jeremy Lamb exemplified the offensive struggles more than anyone, scoring seven points on 2-12 shooting. He missed both of his threes, joined by Turner, who was 0-4. Turner and Sabonis both played well in the first quarter, particularly using their size to help Indiana’s rebounding. They combined for seven offensive boards, four of those in the first, which led to those six second chance points. By the end, they had lost the rebounding battle 49-46, allowing 11 offensive rebounds.
A. Holiday, taking the court with Justin Holiday and Jrue Holiday at the same time in the second half proved the highlight of the night for the Pacers, but moving forward, it won’t hold much water given they’ll return to Indianapolis for a very difficult pair of games against Philadelphia and Denver.
The game against the Philadelphia 76ers will take place on Tuesday, an early tip of 3:00 p.m. Eastern. The Pacers will enter on a two game losing streak, which is an especially bad place to be given the opponents.