Things were a bit tougher to come by for the Indiana Pacers in their second preseason game, struggling mightily in the second quarter and allowing that to be the difference in an otherwise manageable game for the young Pacers. Indiana was doubled up in the quarter by the New York Knicks, getting outscored 46-23.
Their defensive progress from Wednesday was nonexistent in the second quarter especially, giving the Knicks anything they wanted while forcing zero turnovers. Indiana’s struggles defensively didn’t carry over to New York’s side, with the home team holding the Pacers to just 5-23 shooting in the quarter, effectively shutting down the paint after Indiana used that to their advantage against Charlotte.
Indiana did have some positives in the third quarter, but were never able to truly make it a game, even after T.J. McConnell briefly cut the lead to single digits late in the quarter. The Pacers may not have had much success inside (though they did finish with 52), they were a bit more effective from outside, hitting their first four of the game, making 13 total.
Tyrese Haliburton had a pair of threes in a solid scoring night, finishing with 20 points and seven assists, including a 6-6 night at the free throw line. With the Pacers failing to replicate their success as a team from the line tonight, getting that steadiness from Haliburton is going to prove crucial.
Though Haliburton didn’t struggle to score, New York’s defense was effective in limiting his explosive abilities, though he did cap his night in transition, lobbing the ball off the glass to Jalen Smith for his seventh assist.
That dunk wrapped up a seven point night for Smith, who along with Isaiah Jackson and Terry Taylor, had their work cut out for them against New York’s bigs with Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson combining for 25 points, eventually fouling out Smith. Not only did Smith struggle, but so too did Myles Turner as a scorer, picking up just three points on 0-4 shooting.
Turner did make an impact elsewhere, blocking two shots and pulling in nine rebounds in his first half action, leading the team in rejections with Jackson and Duarte. Jackson finished with six points and three boards while Duarte reached double figures with 11. Among all the Pacers tonight, Duarte was perhaps the most active and impressive, involving himself in every aspect of the game.
Off the bench, the Pacers were once again led by Bennedict Mathurin, who scored 19 points on 7-15 shooting. While his effectiveness around the rim wasn’t replicated due to New York’s improved interior defense, that didn’t stop him from going towards the basket and finding some well-earned success at times.
Rick Carlisle and the coaching staff stayed true to their preseason rotation tonight, playing the same 10 guys with some earlier run for Andrew Nembhard. That again meant less from Oshae Brissett than probably expected, trailing behind Kendall Brown and Goga Bitadze in tonight’s rotation. That again didn’t keep Brissett from finding success, stepping in for four points and two rebounds in the fourth.
The 131 allowed was far more in line with what Indiana was doing towards the end of last season vs. what they managed to do against Charlotte on Wednesday, but as expected, it’s not going to be smooth sailing sorting out whatever this team is expecting to be this season.
With the exhibition season half over, the Pacers will be given a good opportunity to learn from this performance against the same team, hosting the Knicks on Wednesday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.