The Summer League iteration of the Indiana Pacers got off on the wrong foot on their 2019 Summer League campaign, getting blown out by the Memphis Grizzlies 101-75. If defense was a focal point for this team, they failed spectacularly, allowing Memphis to shoot shoot 53%. Many of those buckets came at the rim and in transition, where resistance was non-existent for much of the game.
Indiana not only never led in this one, but they were barely competitive, spending much of the game down double figures. Not surprisingly, their poor defense did not mesh well with their inability to score efficiently, finishing under 36% for the night. As a team, there’s almost nothing positive to take from the loss. Indiana won the turnover battle 15-21, but weren’t able to capitalize on that advantage. They also had zero blocks as a team, the (temporary?) absence of Goga Bitadze being felt strongly there.
The game wasn’t completely lost, however. There were some positive individual performances to note, starting at the top with Aaron Holiday. Holiday lifted the Pacers offensively in the first half, scoring 18 of his 24 points before the break. His torrid shooting pace slowed down in the second half, however, finishing just 8-22 from the field, missing his last four three point attempts.
Alize Johnson would finish up with a team high six rebounds to go with 12 points. Offensively, there was some really interesting plays from Johnson in showing off a nice floater and bowling to the basket with a purpose. Unfortunately, while getting to double figures, he had a team high six turnovers in the process.
Also, while Johnson did lead the team in rebounds, there was very little of the rebounding acumen he’s shown prior to tonight’s game. In part, that lack of real force on the glass allowed Memphis to run up a +12 rebounding differential. The hustle plays usually attributed to Johnson felt more organic coming from Jaylen Johnson instead. The lone non-contract starter for the Pacers had four points on 1-6 shooting, but was involved in a number of effort plays, especially early on.
Indiana’s first real look at Brian Bowen II was a positive one as well, finishing in double figures with 10 points and five rebounds. Bowen was the only Pacer to finish over 50% shooting at 4-7, hitting a pair of threes. He was also perhaps Indiana’s brightest spot defensively, doing well in pick and roll situations to force turnovers.
Where Holiday and Bowen in particular brought some of the best moments for the Pacers as should be expected, Edmond Sumner hit reverse on those expectations today, finishing with just four points on 1-7 shooting. Sumner didn’t look like a part of the game, but appeared to suffer an injury in the second half. It didn’t remove him from the game, but he did play just 20 minutes. Sumner’s minutes would ultimately go to DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, who led the bench with 15 points in 26 minutes.
All in all, Indiana has plenty of room for improvement as a team in this Summer League and may have to do so within if Bitadze is unable to join the team for any game. Though while there are some disappointing aspects in today’s game, the ups and downs of the Summer League often lend to wild variations from game to game, where today’s negatives may turn positive and vice-versa.
The Pacers will take the court again on Monday, facing the Detroit Pistons, fresh off their own blowout win today over Portland.