For the first three quarters, the Indiana Pacers never trailed. In the fourth quarter, they had to fight from behind. The Pacers would score the final eight points of the game to top the Dallas Mavericks, wrapping up a wildly successful 4-1 road trip.
Aaron Holiday was involved early in breaking an early 2-2 tie, scoring five and dishing to T.J. Warren to put Indiana ahead for the bulk of the game. Indiana’s energy was on point, fueled by Myles Turner in his annual homecoming. Turner had seven in the opening quarter to push Indiana ahead by as many as eight.
With Indiana’s success came an impressive counterattack from Luka Doncic, who did all he did could to keep the Mavericks within single digits. He did just that, responding four separate times in the first half after Indiana had pushed their lead to eight or nine. Eventually, along with Tim Hardaway Jr., he was able to bring Dallas to within two late in the half on a 7-0 run.
The Pacers’ inability to push the lead into double figures despite having the opportunities to do so loomed large after the Mavs cut the lead to a single possession, but back to back dunks by Domantas Sabonis pushed the lead out to six.
End of quarter buckets would favor Dallas heavily in the first half however, as Doncic and Hardaway Jr. hit threes at the end of each quarter to limit Indiana’s lead to just three at 55-52. The Pacers would spend much of the third quarter staving off Dallas, holding onto their lead in large part due to a big quarter from Warren, attacking Doncic defensively as part of his 10 points.
Dallas would eventually tie the game on a Doncic four point play, but in it, as well as the two ties that followed, the Pacers responded, scoring on the following possession each time. Four of those points came from T.J. McConnell late in the third, the first coming from Turner following the four point play.
On two of those possessions, the Pacers were able to build a two possession lead, getting just enough from the defense in an otherwise 32-point quarter from the Mavs. Turner in particular was a big part of that success, playing exceptionally in man-to-man situations, forcing a shot clock violation on Doncic after a pair of switches.
It's not often you'll see a defensive highlight, but this warrants it. Turner shutting down Doncic in every way here.— FOX Sports Indiana (@FSIndiana) March 9, 2020
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Hardaway Jr. would again salvage Dallas’s quarter win with bucket to end the quarter, cutting the lead to two heading into the fourth. Justin Holiday sparked the Pacers bench to open the fourth, scoring the first five, giving Indiana some breathing room up 91-85. On the other end, the Pacers were unable to get a stop, allowing four straight threes as part of a 12-4 run that put Dallas on top 97-95.
The two buckets Indiana did score in that stretch came from Edmond Sumner, who followed a miss with a beautiful tip and then stepped into a confident jumper, minimizing the Dallas onslaught. J. Holiday would put Indiana back into the lead with his second three of the quarter, only to see the Mavs score on their next six possessions, building a 108-104 lead with under five minutes left.
Back-to-back misses from the Pacers was thankfully offset by a three much needed stops, but Indiana would eventually send Doncic to the free throw line after he had drawn three straight fouls on Warren, fouling him out in the process. Fortunately for the Pacers, Doncic split the trip, setting up the Oladipo to Sabonis connection on the other end to score Indiana’s first points in two minutes.
After a Doncic miss, Oladipo stepped into a jumper, rattling home a much needed shot. He would then block Hardaway Jr.’s layup attempt on the other end, keeping Indiana within a point. Despite not scoring on their next two possessions, Turner was a force defensively, picking up two blocks and a steal on their next two possessions, including stuffing Kristaps Porzingis at the three point line with 49 seconds remaining.
Indiana gained possession and out of a foul-to-give situation, Oladipo rolled off a J. Holiday screen to pull up for a nothing but net jumper that put the Pacers on top with 38 seconds in the game.
The Pacers held strong defensively, keeping the Mavs out of a two for one situation and forcing a Courtney Lee missed three and crucial rebound from Turner to set up Oladipo for a pair of free throws. Indiana’s free throw shooting was one of the reasons Indiana was unable to build a double figure lead early, but Oladipo left no doubt after drilling both.
On the final possession, Doncic missed a three point attempt, but followed his own miss in the corner, leaving a second attempt short. Turner picked up his 13th rebound off of the miss, securing Indiana’s 112-109 victory.
The gutsy Winning Time victory was one of the most entertaining games of the season. The Pacers never folded even after falling behind by five late. They scored the last eight of the game, forcing Dallas into nine straight misses to end the game, including three blocks in the process.
The misses late helped Indiana mask the shortcomings from three point range, getting outshot 14-8 despite having a better overall percentage by the end of the game. Without Doug McDermott for a second straight game, the Pacers had a difficult time getting shots to go, making the performance of J. Holiday off the bench all that more important.
Holiday hit half of Indiana’s threes, going 4-5 from deep to lead the bench with 14 points. McConnell again had a solid night, scoring 12 with five assists to help the Pacers’ second unit to a 37-25 win. The Pacers also had a huge edge in fast break points, outscoring the Mavericks 25-13 on the night, getting a nice boost in the first half from their transition game.
Four of Indiana’s starters reached double figures, led by Sabonis with 20 points and 17 rebounds. Along with Turner, who had 16 and 13, the Pacers were able to edge Dallas on the glass 47-42. Sabonis did well tonight to find success against a sizable Mavericks roster, while Turner shot 6-9, leading the charge on the defensive end with three blocks and two steals.
Turner’s man defense was crucial, especially against Doncic, succeeding where Warren struggled. Both Doncic and Warren did well to attack the other, Doncic getting the upper hand by fouling Warren out on three fouls on a single possession. Warren did get his, scoring 16 points with eight rebounds before exiting the game.
A. Holiday was the lone starter in single digits, but did play well early, scoring five of his seven in the opening minutes, dishing a pair of assists in the process. Sumner as well played well when he needed to, finishing with six while JaKarr Sampson filled in with five on a pair of well-timed dunks, each coming as a response to a Dallas basket.
This was a key win for the Pacers in not only wrapping up a successful road trip (their best five game trip since 1992), but in being able to take advantage of losses by both Boston and Philadelphia ahead of matchups with both teams. Indiana pushes ahead by by a game against the Sixers while climbing to within 3.5 of the third place Celtics with two games remaining.
The success of the Pacers, 8-2 in their last 10, has allowed them to gain 2-3 games on the 3-6 seed race, putting them back in the thick of things following their six game losing streak to start February. Getting a win tonight against Dallas was a good first step, but it’s their next four games that will go a long way in determining just where they might end up in the standings.
Three of those four, and five of their next six will be at home, starting on Tuesday with a matchup with the Boston Celtics. It will be just the second meeting of the two teams this season, following Indiana’s 122-117 win in December. The Celtics will enter having lost four of five, all four losses coming late or in overtime.