A bit of a sluggish game early turned into a thriller late as Sharife Cooper hit the game winning three to lift the Atlanta Hawks over the Indiana Pacers at the Las Vegas Summer League. A strong fourth quarter helped bring the Summer Pacers back into it after trailing for the entire night.
Isaiah Jackson was big in the final period, eventually giving the Pacers an 83-81 lead on a pair of late game free throws. On the game’s final possession, Indiana forced the miss, but failed to secure the rebound with Cassius Stanley failing in his attempt to save the possession, putting Max Heidegger in the right place to get the ball to Cooper for the step back game winner.
The end result was a bummer, but it was still a positive showing overall for the Pacers, especially in the second half. Chris Duarte kept the Pacers afloat in the first half despite falling behind by double figures in the second quarter. Duarte then closed the half with style, beating the buzzer for his second straight halftime three.
The Pacers as a whole had an extra spring in their step in the third, thanks in large part to Stanley’s play, scoring 10 points (and a well-read steal) in the opening minutes, crucial in helping them keep pace with Cooper’s big opening third as well. Stanley finished with 14 on 5-7 shooting.
While they weren’t able to do much more than tread water on the scoreboard, the highlights weren’t in short supply for the Pacers as they closed out the third, with Duarte simply knowing what he’s best at: hitting buzzer beating threes.
Trailing six heading into the fourth, the Pacers did what they failed to do earlier in the game, such as competing in minutes Duarte was on the bench, scoring the first eight of the fourth. Back-to-back threes by Keifer Sykes and Duane Washington Jr. put the Pacers on top, however briefly, putting them in position for the closing minutes of the game.
Small plays, such as a corner steal by Devin Robinson and a nifty inside pass by Tyrone Wallace, were crucial in not only turning the tide, but the fantastic plays by both each led to lead changes in Indiana’s favor. The Wallace pass set up Jackson for the go-ahead free throws, capping a strong showing from the 22nd overall pick.
Jackson finished the game with 13 points and 12 rebounds thanks in large part to his fourth quarter efforts. He looked much more comfortable today after being more or less thrown into the mix yesterday as his acquisition became final.
Duarte led the way with 21 points, but shot 8-19 in the process. He did go a solid 5-10 from deep, but shot no free throws, though he did go 3-5 in the paint. Duarte was a bit of a lifeline to Indiana’s play early, settling things down with his ability to run the offense, in addition to reading steals and responding well to double teams.
Also finishing in double figures was Oshae Brissett with 13. Brissett came alive in the second half yesterday, but today struggled shooting, going 0-5 from three and 3-12 overall, though he did a great job working his way to the line, leading the way at7-8, outscoring the entire Hawks team (5-5) in free throws.
The Summer Pacers drop to 0-2, but still have at least a couple more chances to get into the win column, starting with a Thursday evening matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers at 6 p.m. Eastern.