The Indiana Pacers got back on track in the NBA 2K23 Summer League, putting away the Detroit Pistons early to improve to 2-1 in Las Vegas. The Summer Pacers played a tight rotation, getting all 78 points through the first three quarters from the seven guys Indiana expects to have on the roster come the regular season.
It was the opposite story for the Pistons, sitting nearly all of their top guys, giving the Pacers ample opportunity to pile on Detroit throughout the night. Indiana took full advantage, holding the Summer Pistons under 30% shooting in the first half, while themselves comfortable converting over 50% of their attempts, limiting the Pistons to 11 first quarter points and 30 for the first half.
With the Malcolm Brogdon trade to Boston officially completed, the Pacers were able to get their first look at one of their newest players in Aaron Nesmith. Nesmith was originally set to get reps with the Celtics before the trade, but following the transaction was finally able to suit up tonight, scoring 12 with seven rebounds.
Nesmith got the Pacers started with the game’s first bucket, a nice contested floater before hitting a set three off of a Terry Taylor offensive board.
Nesmith not only provided a nice offensive punch, but alongside Kendall Brown, gave Indiana a glimpse at a brighter defensive future. The two had their hands disrupting Detroit’s offense throughout the first quarter, capping it off with a Brown steal and slam and Nesmith forcing the Pistons into a tight shot clock situation by deflecting a ball out of bounds.
Nesmith may have been forcing things a bit much on offense, however, leading to a game high four turnovers. Turnovers (and early struggles from the free throw line) were the only real issues with Indiana’s game as a whole tonight, neither becoming a factor in the game as a whole, however, especially with Nesmith’s impact on the defensive end of the floor.
Bennedict Mathurin led the way for Indiana with 20 points on a wildly efficient 5-9 shooting. While Indiana as a team stumbled from the line to start, there was no struggles in getting there. Mathurin had 10 of Indiana’s 31 free throw attempts, steadily sinking nine of them. Mathurin’s shot-making was on display tonight while also impacting the game elsewhere with three assists and three steals.
One of Mathurin’s targets was Isaiah Jackson, who had his best all around outing of the Summer League thus far, scoring 14 on a perfect 7-7 shooting with four blocks and a steal. Jackson’s athleticism was on full display as well, throwing down multiple dunks (even within traffic), including a monstrous slam in transition late in the third quarter.
The fourth player in double figures for the Pacers came courtesy of Taylor, scoring 14 points with nine rebounds (five offensive) on 6-9 shooting. Taylor continues to be an incredibly reliable option on the glass with nine of Indiana’s second chance points coming from Taylor alone.
Off the bench, Brown and Duane Washington Jr. each finished with eight. It was a solid showing from Brown in particular, who not only had his defensive flashes alongside Nesmith, but pulled in seven rebounds, four assists, and a pair of steals. Washington meanwhile had three rebounds and a pair of assists, joining Andrew Nembhard in point guard duties, the Gonzaga rookie scoring six with three assists.
One of the more impressive notes of the game is that the Pacers did what they did without having any success from behind the arc. Heading into the fourth quarter, Indiana as a team had hit just three triples, a number matched by Gabe York alone in the fourth, leading all bench scorers with nine despite not playing before the fourth.
The fourth three of the fourth quarter came courtesy of Tevin Brown, with he, Eli Brooks, Jermaine Samuels, and Fanbo Zeng scoring a pair of points each. Simi Shittu and Nate Hilton helped fill out the nine man rotation in the first three quarters, Shittu scoring on a free throw with two rebounds while Hinton had a rebound and assist.
The Summer Pacers will enjoy some extra time off before wrapping up the “regular season” portion of the Vegas Summer League when they face the Washington Wizards on Friday, same 9 p.m. Eastern tip time.