For three and a half quarters, the Indiana Pacers were stuck in an ebb and flow with the Golden State Warriors, one the Warriors seemed in control of. The surprisingly low scoring nature of the game seemed to favor Golden State, especially as Stephen Curry, despite an 11-point third quarter, had not really put his stamp on the game to that point.
The Pacers still played tough, taking an 85-82 lead into the final stretch of the game when Curry and Draymond Green returned for the Warriors. They immediately swung the game, helping the Warriors to six straight points go up three. Aaron Holiday tied it up with a three only to have Curry drill a jumper on the other side.
From there, the Pacers locked in defensively and broke out offensively, with Holiday leading the way on a 13-0 Indiana run that closed out the hard fought W. Holiday had four points and two tremendous assists in the run, the second a beautiful cross court pass to Justin Holiday.
The run late changed up the flow on what was otherwise a rather ugly game. The final score should offer up a glimpse of that (entering tonight, teams that scored 104 points or less are were 4-28 on the year), but it was at times looking as if that were unattainable.
The Pacers scored just 19 first quarter points, getting there on 7-23 shooting. They kept the score manageable until the end of it, when the Warriors pushed ahead by nine heading into the second. The Pacers, led by A. Holiday, stormed back, taking the lead early in the quarter on a pair of Cassius Stanley free throws, but it would be short lived as Golden State responded with a 11-2 run to go up seven.
That seven point advantage would hold heading into the break when the Pacers again began to chip away again, taking a brief lead halfway through the third. As was seemingly the case all night, the Warriors were in place to respond, scoring five straight and eventually pushing their lead out to six. Indiana fought back once more, closed the gap to two heading into the fourth.
The third quarter wasn’t without its charm...
...but it did change up a lot of things within the game itself. Curry carried the load for the Warriors’ offense in the quarter, but the play of Golden State’s role players took a step back after an impressive first half. That helped Indiana weather Curry’s play, getting them into the fourth quarter, where they took the lead while he and Green rested.
It was a great night for A. Holiday to break out of his season-long slump, scoring 16 points to go with 12 assists to lead Indiana to the win. He was magnificent in the fourth quarter, especially as a playmaker. The Pacers committed three turnovers to start the fourth and while the defense held for the most part, the offense needed a spark.
Holiday rebounded a JaKarr Sampson corner three miss, finding a cutting Sampson for a layup. It was the first of four straight plays in which the Pacers scored, all on Holiday assists, to put the Pacers on top early in the quarter. The latter two of those went to Myles Turner, who was easily Indiana’s most reliable option.
Turner had 22 points on 7-10 shooting, pulling in 11 rebounds, and blocking four shots. It was an all-around effort for Turner, who got started with the first seven points of the night for Indiana and ended with two fourth quarter threes, both set up by the younger Holiday.
The play of Turner and A. Holiday were big boosts for the Pacers. With Victor Oladipo resting on the second night of a back-to-back, the usual leaders for the Pacers were of greater focus for the Warriors defense. That led to rough shooting nights for both Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon, combining for 12-33 shooting.
While Brogdon continued to struggle finishing around the rim, Sabonis only really had any success in the paint himself in the third quarter. The led both players to be mainly playmakers, dishing 14 assists between them. In fact, the trio of Sabonis, Brogdon, and Holiday amounted for all 26 of Indiana’s assists on the night.
Edmond Sumner got his first start of the year with Oladipo out and he played extremely well, scoring 12 points on 6-11 shooting. Sumner did a good job as a more primary defender on Curry in the first half, holding up as part of Indiana’s gimmicky defense packages that pulled the ball out of Curry’s hands for much of the game.
This didn’t quite slow down the Warriors in the first half, however. Both Damion Lee and Kelly Oubre Jr. found considerable success before the break in helping Golden State to 57 first half points, but both came back down to earth after the half as the Pacers held the Warriors to just 38 in the second half.
That drop off in production really helped Indiana late, making it easier on the defense to get stops to be sure, but also allowing the Pacers to maximize their own play, getting solid minutes from JaKarr Sampson in a lineup with Turner, scoring six, including two baskets on baseline cuts.
While not quite a must-win, this was perhaps the most important game on the road trip for the Pacers. With three incredibly tough games remaining on this trip, the Pacers could ill-afford to take a losing streak into a place like Portland, for example, where they haven’t won since 2007. Instead, they’ll get to take a win into Portland, a place they haven’t won since 2007, to face the 6-4 Trail Blazers on Thursday.