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Pacers drop Summer League opener to Knicks, 94-86

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Rooks Duarte and Washington Jr. stand out in Vegas debut.

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - New York Knicks v Indiana Pacers Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Summer Pacers lost a highly entertaining game to the Summer Knicks, 94-86 in Las Vegas on Monday afternoon.

Of course, that entertainment level was fully considering the context of Summer League but considering the Pacers played a lot of young players and seemed to know what they were doing, there were plenty of positive take aways to enjoy.

After the first two minutes, it seemed like the more experienced Knicks team with Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley, who both had roles with the Knicks last season, would roll over the Pacers thanks to their experience and continuity.

But the young Pacers adjusted and more importantly, started pouring in three-balls thanks to active defense and good spacing on offense to create scoring opportunities. Top pick Chris Duarte flashed his game early in the first quarter run, swiping a pass on the defensive end then taking it the other way to create a three-ball for his first points.

After the Pacers rallied to take a 24-18 lead after the first quarter, it was time for the Hyperbolic Overreaction of the Game: This summer team (including Oshae Brissett) would be Bjorkgren’s squad from last season.

Those vibes were hanging by a thread at halftime after Duarte hit an off-balanced three through contact to close out the half with the Pacers up 44-41. From there, Quickley and the Knicks had too much for the Pacers, including too much interest in winning.

Quickley scored 32 points with 8 assists in 33 minutes on the floor, while Topping added 22 points and 9 rebounds in over 35 minutes of playing time. The Knicks only played nine players with rookies Jericho Sims and Quentin Grimes also logging more than 30 minutes.

The Pacers gave 12 players some run with Oshae Brissett logging 30 minutes and looking strong with 22 points and 7 rebounds, looking like the active players we loved watching last season. His 2 for 8 effort from 3-land didn’t help the bottom line, however.

Duarte looked every bit a quality first round pick, delivering active impact at both ends of the floor. He just played the game, rarely trying to force much on offense and finished with 14 points on 8 shots. The handful of threes that were more forced and not in rhythm were misses.

Duane Washington Jr. showed up big, particularly from behind the arc, finishing with 23 points on 8 of 9 shots, including 5 three-pointers. By halftime he looked like a guy in search of a one-way contract despite the two-way deal he currently has with the Pacers.

The Pacers other first-round pick, Isaiah Jackson started the second quarter for a little burn after joining the team over the weekend. As expected, he stood out on the defensive end with a couple of blocks to make his presence felt around the rim.

The Pacers return to action on Tuesday when they face the Summer Hawks at 6 p.m. ET on NBA TV.