Defeating the Portland Trail Blazers, the Indiana Pacers picked up their second straight win in impressive fashion, blowing out the unrecognizable Blazers. Everything came up Pacers in the afternoon showcase, with seven double figure scorers and a season high 38 team assists.
The Pacers led wire to wire, jumping out to a 16-4 lead just shy of the halfway point of the first quarter, expanding it to as high as 25 in the first half. Portland would end up with some positives in the third quarter, closing the period on a 16-5 run make it a 12-point game, but a big stretch from Keifer Sykes to open the fourth shut the door for good, wrapping up a 31-point win.
With 10 guys available and each of them making positive contributions, Rick Carlisle was able to go deep with his minutes, playing everyone at least 18 minutes. Justin Anderson got the bulk of the work in his first start with the Pacers. Anderson was settled in from the jump, scoring the opening points and finishing with 18 points, six boards, and four assists.
Oshae Brissett led the way for the Pacers with 24 points and nine rebounds, coming up a board short of a double double, nearly getting to that mark in the first half. Brissett was fantastic throughout as well, leading the way with four offensive boards, helping the Pacers to 15 second chance and 19 fast break points.
Two of those fast break points came courtesy of Lance Stephenson, courtesy of Tyrese Haliburton. Haliburton picked up a steal against CJ Elleby, throwing a beautiful outlet to Stephenson, whipping it behind his back to Brissett who flushed down a reverse jam.
It was every bit the highlight of the game, if not the season for the Pacers, a perfect representation of the kind of game they had against these short-handed Trail Blazers. That short-handedness resulted in a lot of positives for the Pacers, who felt nothing but comfort against this opponent.
Haliburton looked as good as he has in the past couple of games, scoring 10 points with seven assists, comfortably stepping into each of this threes. Unfortunately, he continues to have turnover issues, committing four in a game the Pacers had 16 total. Indiana’s top three assist guys (Haliburton, Stephenson, Duane Washington Jr.) accounted for 10 of those turnovers, but also finished with 24 assists.
Stephenson led the way with 11 himself, going all in as a passer, finding seven different guys for buckets. Washington meanwhile dished five of his six assists to Jalen Smith and Terry Taylor, each finishing with 17. Each had two offensive boards with Taylor finishing a perfect 7-7 from the floor, hitting a three. Smith meanwhile put in two triples. Goga Bitadze had three assists himself as he continues to play well, scoring 12 on 6-10 shooting.
The Pacers shot 57% for the game, with only Buddy Hield and Keifer Sykes shooting under 40% and even they had a lot of say in the positive success of the team. Sykes had seven on 3-10 shooting, all coming to open the fourth quarter, including an impressive breakaway dunk.
Hield meanwhile just could not find his shot throughout the game though that didn’t stop him from putting up a familiar looking three-steal-three sequence midway through the third, the second of his two inbounds steals on the game.
The win improves the Pacers to 25-47 with just 10 games remaining in the season, their first back-to-back win in exactly two months. They’ll wrap up a two-game home stand on Wednesday when they host the Sacramento Kings, welcoming back Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, and Jeremy Lamb in a matchup that will have a role in determining lottery positioning.