The night-to-night adventure that is the 2021-22 Indiana Pacers marches on, responding to perhaps the worst loss of the season with the best win of the season, leaving no doubt against the Utah Jazz to close out a suddenly impressive 2-2 road trip. The Pacers took the lead in the first quarter and only briefly looked back, leading most of the way to hand Utah their first home loss of the season.
The response to their loss to a short-handed Denver team was a big one. The Pacers outworked the Jazz from the outset, responding well to hot shooting from Utah to open the game. The Jazz hit four of their first five shots from three, but Indiana never fell behind by more than four in that stretch, getting a great start from Malcolm Brogdon to keep things mostly level.
The Jazz would go ahead by as many as six in the quarter, sending Domantas Sabonis to the bench with foul trouble in the process. The second unit for the Pacers took the start to a different level. Torrey Craig scored off of two offensive rebounds and the Pacers were off and running, outscoring Utah 14-2 to go up by six.
Utah scored the final three of the first, then opened up the second with a 12-6 run that put them ahead by four. The starters, once again led by Brogdon, flipped the scoreboard, putting Indiana back on top. Ahead by just three with 1:38 remaining in the half, the Pacers scored the last six of the half, getting an extra two offensive rebounds in the process to set up a T.J. McConnell putback to extend the lead to nine.
T.J. McConnell hustles in for the putback before the buzzer— NBA (@NBA) November 12, 2021
He's got 13 PTS at the half and the @Pacers lead Utah, 60-51, on NBA League Pass.
Second half https://t.co/V0kkYEEIkG pic.twitter.com/Tid640yKXV
The second half started with a bang on the defensive end for Indiana, with Myles Turner swatting away a Rudy Gobert dunk attempt, leading to Gobert picking up his first technical foul.
Indiana pushed their lead to 12 halfway through the third when the third quarter boogieman popped up and startled the Pacers. Utah capitalized on Turner bench minutes, going on a 9-0 run that cut the lead down to three. A pair of threes from Turner, tastefully accompanied by some back and forth with Gobert, got Indiana out of their funk, pushing their lead back out to nine as the third quarter came to a close, one point shy of a third quarter win.
With the Jazz still well within sight to open the fourth, the Pacers got a big boost off the bench from Kelan Martin. Martin scored nine in the opening 4:30 of the quarter, keeping the lead around double figures as Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz threatened. The game entered double figures for the Pacers on two more offensive rebounds from McConnell, leading to a pair of buckets.
At around the four minute mark of the fourth, Turner again stuffed Gobert at the rim. Gobert, heated the entire second half from being the second-best shot blocker, pulled Turner to the floor, leading to a bit of a scuffle that ultimately saw both players ejected. Joe Ingles and Mitchell each sought out some extracurricular activity within the dustup, leading to their ejections as well.
Technical free throws (in addition to a belated McConnell bucket as Turner and Gobert jawed on the other end) put the Pacers up 13. Tight whistles and a fired up crowd made the remainder of this one a bit tense, but Indiana held steady, responding well to a pair of Utah buckets, eventually getting a much needed dagger three from Chris Duarte to seal the win.
The scuffle between Turner and Gobert wasn’t completely unexpected. Gobert was not only already on edge after earlier back and forths, but it also came as a response to Indiana’s physicality throughout the night. The Pacers absolutely brought the fight to tonight’s game and it had the Jazz looking for answers throughout the night.
An early precedent was set in leaning towards a more physical game. The Pacers picked it up and ran with it, getting into a groove that not only led them to their best offensive output of the road trip, but bled out into other aspects of their game. The Pacers outrebounded the Jazz by 16, pulling in 15 offensive boards for 22 second chance points. Interestingly enough, Indiana’s only quarter loss was the third, where they had no offensive rebounds.
They were led on the offensive glass by none other than McConnell, who had five, totaling eight to wrap up an impressive 21 point, eight rebounds, five assist night (including an inbounds steal). He was really the lone scoring contributor for the first three quarters until Martin stepped up with his big fourth, finishing with 14 points.
Brogdon led the way for all scorers with a season best of 30, pulling in a team high nine rebounds (three offensive) and four assists. Brogdon (along with McConnell) was the offensive catalyst throughout the night, offering Indiana a necessary scoring boost with not only Caris LeVert missing his second straight game, but with Sabonis limited to just six points with foul trouble.
Turner scored 13 points with nine rebounds, finishing with three blocks before his ejection. All three blocks came in the second half, picking up defensive steam after finding his way in the first half. His shooting continues to be true, hitting 3-4 from deep, including the two third quarter threes that may have well saved Indiana’s night in the end.
Though a fine will likely be coming Turner’s way, the severity of the fracas with Gobert didn’t appear such that it will warrant a suspension for him. However, on the heels of Nikola Jokic’s retaliation, it’s hard to say where the league will come down on this. Ingles’s involvement may prove to be the example set in case of suspension, however, as he not only charged into the rumpus unnecessarily, but got a good shove in on an official in the process.
It was a good night not just from guys scoring the ball, however, but a solid outing from role players as well. While Duarte appeared a bit weighed down by the schedule, the altitude, and (hopefully not) something more, leading to some poor decisions and shooting, his lone three to close out the win cannot be understated.
Justin Holiday, despite some poor shooting, did hit a couple of threes in addition to some nice play on the defensive end, including a perfectly timed striped of Royce O’Neale on a fast break to force a turnover with the Jazz threatening in the second quarter. Craig and Jeremy Lamb each scored four and Goga Bitadze offered some exciting minutes in the first, picking up two steals and soaking up four fouls for good measure.
The Pacers wrap up a 2-2 road trip, which featured two strong responses after tough losses in Portland and Denver. The Pacers improve to 5-8 on the whole, returning home for one game on Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers, who will be on the hunt for a win after dropping their third straight tonight.