Behind a Domantas Sabonis triple double and a Doug McDermott point scoring spectacular, the Indiana Pacers grabbed their second straight win, topping the Charlotte Hornets in the first of a two game series. The Pacers used a 16-6 run halfway through the fourth to take the game from a shaky two-point lead to a fairly comfortable 12-point advantage.
The Pacers scored on seven straight possessions in the run, getting an assist on each basket. T.J. McConnell had four of those assists, two more came from Sabonis as the Pacers finished with 34 as a team. Sabonis’s assists in the fourth all went to McDermott, a long standing favorite target for the crafty big, the run capped on this beautiful skip pass.
Absurd placement on this Sabonis pass: pic.twitter.com/YZawkcgUpV— Tony East (@TEastNBA) January 28, 2021
Sabonis found McDermott six times on the night for a basket, finishing with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. For McDermott, it was a 28-point outing, going 12-22 from the floor, getting there despite making just one three. He had 22 points in the paint alone, doing all of his damage right at the basket.
Feeding McDermott was the call early and often for the Pacers tonight and the team went as he did, especially in the first half. They fell behind early, but pounced on the Hornets, closing out the quarter 33-9 to build a 17-point lead. In the second, however, that lead evaporated entirely as the bench struggled to score, including the force feeds to McDermott. Indiana would have trouble finding room on the scoreboard against Charlotte in the second half, each push to a 2-3 possession lead regularly closed until the mid-fourth quarter run that featured nine of McDermott’s 16 in the quarter.
In general, the Pacers played very well, but the little things worked against them in allowing Charlotte to stay a part of the game for as long as they did. Indiana allowed 11 offensive rebounds, leading to 22 Charlotte points. Indiana got stops just twice on those rebounds, letting up three three pointers in the process.
They also struggled maximizing their points off turnovers, getting outscored 17-14. A -9 point advantage at the free throw line (the Pacers attempted just 12 shots, shockingly low after the 45 attempts they had against Toronto) also helped close the otherwise 10% difference in shooting percentage.
The Pacers eventually found some distance in three point shots, hitting 16 to Charlotte’s 13, an edge that existed early, but not often, only separating in the fourth when Indiana hit three. For the game, the Pacers shot a 16-40, including a game high five makes from Justin Holiday, who much like McDermott, returned to form after a bad game against Toronto on Monday.
Malcolm Brogdon also had a big night, scoring 25 points on 9-17 shooting, hitting four threes himself with six assists. The ball movement also got Jeremy Lamb to four assists, surpassing his season total in tonight’s game, a much needed boost given his shooting struggles, finishing with three points on 1-6 shooting.
Myles Turner had eight points and five blocks and Goga Bitadze had a pair himself, helping to tie the team’s season high in blocked shots with nine. Aaron Holiday also had a nice burst off the bench, scoring seven, including a three early in the fourth.
The Pacers move to 2-1 in the opening games of these two game series, but failed to sweep either of the previous two. They’ll have an opportunity to do so on Friday when they wrap up the road series with the Hornets.