In an inverse style to last night’s game, the starters came into Gainbridge Fieldhouse and absolutely unloaded on the Pelicans. The lowest +/- in the starting lineup was a +16 from Caris LeVert, as the lineup earned their early seats on the bench for positive reasons this evening.
The game was never out of hand for Indy, as they secured a double digit lead early in the first quarter and extending it to 15 on the heels of a jumper from Myles Turner.
Brandon Ingram nearly closed the gap a few minutes into the second half, but after a steal from Domantas Sabonis leading to a made three from Caris LeVert, the floodgates opened. Domas had a fantastic game and was the fulcrum of the offense for much of his time on the court, something fans were accustomed to seeing the past few years, but less so under Rick Carlisle.
His play inside the paint, establishing deeper presence, opened up a great deal for the offense that hadn’t been there in prior outings as the offense sputtered with the starting lineup. Sabonis finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists along with a pair of triples to lead both teams in scoring on the night.
Myles Turner was a dominant presence as well tonight on the interior, patrolling the lane, picking up 3 stocks, and deterring New Orleans’ ball handlers on drives.
He had perhaps the highlight of the night, following up on an offensive rebounding and putting it back over 3 Pelicans’ defenders.
Malcolm Brogdon found his stroke from deep going 4 of 6 from three which is a positive sign given his slow start to the season from outside. He’s been better of late, 33% on 6.5 per game since returning from his illness absence during the Western Conference road trip, but benefitted from an easier diet of looks tonight.
Caris LeVert moved the ball better than in recent games, but continues his shooting woes from outside after a 2 of 7 outing.
Justin Holiday was absolutely on fire tonight hitting 4 of 7 threes after being inserted back into the starting lineup.
While the offense was a revelation compared to the last week of basketball, the defense was the story and Indiana’s activity was palpable. Brandon Ingram struggled from the field scoring just 12 points as the Pacers routinely thwarted his efforts in the halfcourt.
This blowout was a fantastic vibes boost for the fanbase and a good confidence builder for a team that looked lost of late. While it’s worth noting that the Pelicans are one of the worst teams in basketball, the process from Indiana throughout the roster and all game was significantly improved.
The win was much needed to pump the Pacers up the win column as well, as the Pacers head into a remarkably tough stretch of basketball, starting with a date against the Chicago Bulls Monday. The Bulls are one of the standout teams in the association to start the year and present a number of problems that the team will need to solve on either end. Indiana plays at the United Center, tipping off at 8 pm EST.