After a brick-heavy first half put the Indiana Pacers behind at halftime, T.J. Warren changed the entirely complexion of the game against the Charlotte Hornets, scoring 30 second half points to lead Indiana to a much needed win on the road. The Pacers as a team scored 73 points after halftime, a welcome change of pace following their 15-point second quarter performance.
The play in that second quarter left a lot to be desired for both teams, but as a whole, the first half worked in favor of the Hornets. Cody Zeller took it to the Pacers early, scoring 10 first quarter points to help Charlotte to a 29-22 lead. Justin Holiday and Edmond Sumner (with help from T.J. McConnell, a successful go after his ankle sprain on Saturday) scored five straight to end the quarter.
The Pacers went ahead in the second on a laborious 9-0 run, failing to build on what was a four point lead at its apex. The Hornets quickly tied it up, setting up a three minute stretch in which the teams split on the scoreboard 2-2. The Pacers eventually pieced together back to back buckets to take back their four point lead, but blanked to close the half, allowing Charlotte to use a 6-0 run to head into the half on top.
Once in the third quarter, Warren broke up the monotony of the second, scoring the first nine of the half for the Pacers. Warren started the half 3-3, putting the Pacers on top on his third bucket.
The play of Warren opened things up for the rest of the team, allowing the Pacers to finally find an offensive rhythm. With 3:16 remaining in the third, they had outscored the Hornets 28-12 in the quarter, assisting on their first eight shots of the quarter. Indiana did well to respond to some signs of life from Charlotte, maintaining their 14-point advantage heading into the fourth.
Once there, however, the situation became more precarious. J. Holiday hit a three to put the Pacers up 15, but frustration at being called for a foul on a Bismack Biyombo screen led to him being ejected on a pair of technical fouls. Terry Rozier sunk both, kicking off a 6-0 Hornets run that allowed them to bring the game to within seven.
Needing a response, the Pacers turned to none other than Warren, who got fouled on a floater, completing a four point play and then scoring on the ensuing possession, putting Indiana back up double figures. Warren would push the lead to a game high 16 with 5:19 remaining, attacking Cody Martin for another and-one opportunity.
While the Hornets refused to go quietly, the Pacers continued to shoot at a shockingly high rate, using their offense to hold off Charlotte late, losing the fourth quarter 39-36. The Pacers wrapped up the win shooting 14-18 from the floor in the fourth quarter, bringing their second half shooting to 66% overall.
Warren finished with a season high 36 to lead the way. He shot 15-24 for the game, 11-16 in the second half. Warren did a bulk of his damage around the basket, scoring just four points outside of the paint all night.
Bucket-getting, as defined by T.J. Warren pic.twitter.com/2Cbi4Rg3ZN— Caitlin Cooper (@C2_Cooper) January 7, 2020
Even still, the shots he took around the basket weren’t always gimmes, as evidenced by his final bucket of the night, a crashing layup leading to an and-one, the last of his three fourth quarter and-ones.
Not only was Warren a force on the offensive end, he made an impact on the defensive end as well, picking a steal and a block. While his effort on that end became increasingly cavalier, leading to five fouls for the game, it was still a big boost, especially in the first half when Indiana’s offense had nothing to lean on.
No Pacer reached double figures in the first half, but in addition to Warren, both Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner had double figure second halves, with Sabonis scoring 12 and Turner scoring 11. The two bigs got there efficiently, shooting 8-11 in the second half, with a pair of threes coming from Turner.
Sabonis completed a double double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. He also had seven assists, leading the starting unit. Nearly halfway through the fourth, Sabonis went down with an apparent shin injury. He limped to the bench and then back to the locker room, but would return within the next two minutes of game action to finish out the night, dishing his final two assists to Warren to close out the win.
Turner had nine rebounds himself, including a pair on the offensive end, joining Sabonis and Warren with multiple offensive boards. The Pacers rebounded much better tonight, winning the rebounding battle 43-38, their biggest advantage on the glass since December 2. The Pacers got help on the glass all around, with Jeremy Lamb completed a double double of his own with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Off the bench, Indiana outscored the Hornets 32-28 despite having no double figure scorers. J. Holiday led the way with nine points, going 3-4 from deep, joined by Doug McDermott with a pair from deep, scoring eight. McConnell’s availability proved a huge boost, two of his seven assists going to Edmond Sumner for key end of quarter buckets in the first and third quarters.
The win snapped Indiana’s four game road losing streak, putting them back on pace with Philly, who themselves got back in the win column tonight. The Pacers will return home for the only time this week, as they face the Miami Heat on Wednesday, looking to exact revenge for their heartbreaking loss on December 27.