Holding off a strong late push from a short-handed Golden State Warriors squad, the Indiana Pacers were able to wrap up their four game homestand with a W. Already without two starters, the Warriors lost Stephen Curry late in the third to a shoulder injury and Draymond Green in the fourth to self-inflicted technical fouls, but even still, the Pacers needed a game-saving challenge and block from Myles Turner to keep Golden State at bay.
While Golden State finished the game without Curry, he was an absolute force while in the game, overcoming his struggles in the previous meeting to score 15 in the opening quarter, helping the Warriors to a nine-point lead. Down nine, the Pacers flirted with another double figure deficit in the fourth, but held on just long enough to get a pair of baskets at the rim to keep things manageable.
Buddy Hield would trim the lead even further late in the quarter with five straight, T.J. McConnell eventually giving Indiana their first lead with an and-one, going up 27-26 after one. The Pacers extended that advantage in the second, going up double figures before unleashing five threes in in about three minutes time to swell the lead all the way up to 25 at 71-46.
Curry closed strong, however, scoring 10 in the final 90 seconds, cutting the lead to 20 at the break. The Pacers scored 47 points in the quarter, outscoring Golden State by 19 and would need every bit of that advantage in the third quarter. After Hield connected on a three to open the second half, Indiana went ice cold, missing their next eight shots and committing six turnovers.
Suddenly, it was halfway into the quarter and Golden State trailed by just five. They got to within three when Bennedict Mathurin took it to the basket for an and-one. He followed it up with back-to-back threes, extending the lead back out to nine and eventually 13 when Curry left the game.
Despite the absence of Curry, the Warriors managed to close the quarter on a 7-0 run. In the fourth, the Pacers were forced to contend with a new three-point wizard in JaMychal Green, hitting three triples to keep the game at six. The Pacers didn’t have much issue pushing the lead into double figures, but did have a hard time keeping it there, allowing Golden State to slowly chip away, making it a 122-119 game with 1:25 remaining.
Up three, Turner drove the basket, meeting Moses Moody in the paint. The call on the floor was a charge, but the replay showed Moody still sliding into position, prompting a coach’s challenge. It was a key challenge, and subsequent win not only to set up Turner at the free throw line in a three-point game, but it would’ve been his sixth foul had it stood.
The butterfly effect of the call continued on the other end when Jordan Poole drove at the basket only to have Turner step in to block away his shot, effectively sealing the win for the Pacers. It was the only block of the night for Turner, but the Pacers as a team totaled eight, including three from Jalen Smith and two from Tyrese Haliburton and a pretty nice rejection courtesy of Oshae Brissett.
not in his house!— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 15, 2022
Oshae Brissett with the rejection at the rim. pic.twitter.com/LKFzTvD1mk
It was a good bounceback for a number of Pacers tonight, including Haliburton at the forefront. Following his 0-9 shooting night against Miami, Haliburton came alive tonight, going 9-17 and 5-10 from deep to finish with a team high 29, 20 of those coming in the first half to combat a 27-point first half from Curry.
Curry would eventually wrap up with 38 points, but the help without Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins would be limited until he left the game, Draymond Green included. Green was pretty adamant about getting himself out of the game following Curry’s injury, going all in on arguing a foul against Mathurin, picking up a quick technical foul before getting his second on the following play while the Warriors were shooting free throws.
That didn’t alter things much in terms of what Green was contributing (one point and six turnovers), but it did seem to spark the Warriors enough to wake up some otherwise dormant responses. Fortunately, the Pacers had plenty of help to keep Golden State at bay, including a strong showing from Mathurin, finishing with 24.
It wasn’t even so much that Mathurin was able to score tonight so much as when he was able to do it. After keeping the Pacers within single digits in the fourth, he had seven points to open the second to extend their lead to six and later scored nine in two minutes late in the third to break up Golden State’s comeback attempt, a stretch that even had Curry throwing his hands up.
Turner wrapped up the 20-point scorers with 21 points, playing effectively against Golden State’s relative lack of size, shooting 8-11 from the field, all in the paint save for a pair of threes. Hield would join the double figure ranks with a steady 17 points and Brissett would rounds things out with 11 points and three steals and that block of course.
All nine guys had positive impacts tonight. Aaron Nesmith hit a pair of threes and T.J. McConnell dished nine assists off the bench. Jalen Smith’s scoring continues to be an issue, but he led the way with six rebounds (joined by Haliburton and Mathurin) and was very effective with three blocks. Andrew Nembhard was a bit quieter tonight, but had an efficient eight on 4-6 shooting, including a bully ball layup with 12.1 seconds to act as a dagger.
Unfortunately, the win wasn’t helped much by rebounding. The Pacers were still beaten on the glass handily, giving up 12 offensive board sand getting rolled 18-3 in second chance points. They were able to win the rebound battle, getting a tidy seven point advantage in points off turnovers (33-26) to offset such a deficit, but rebounding doesn’t appear to be an issue that will solve itself anytime soon.
That could be a point of contention when the Pacers hit the road to face the Cleveland Cavaliers for the first time this season on Friday. With a formidable front court of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley (not to mention Kevin Love), things could get out of hand quickly if the Pacers aren’t able to limit the otherwise lackluster rebounding of the rest of the Cavs.