The Indiana Pacers ended their 2022 Summer League campaign with a real whimper, getting blown out by the Phoenix Suns. The Pacers were more or less out of this one from the jump, allowing the Suns to score the first seven and go ahead 17-5 while the Pacers struggled to get above 30% shooting for a good portion of the first half.
The starting lineup, a combination of Aaron Nesmith, Andrew Nembhard, Kendall Brown, Nate Hilton, and Bennie Boatwright put the Pacers in a nice hole, one the second unit was nearly able to dig out of. With everything stalled for Indiana’s offense, David DiLeo scored six straight as part of a 10-0 Pacers run to bring the game to within a single point at 28-27.
The Summer Pacers never got over the hump, however, with Phoenix scoring the next four to help Phoenix into a 34-30 halftime lead. With the game in reach out of the break, the same starting lineup did nothing to cut into the deficit, losing the opening minutes 12-2 to allow Phoenix a runaway victory.
Indiana’s offense never got off the ground tonight. They didn’t break 20 in a quarter until the final seconds of the fourth and didn’t get a single double digit scorer. Jermaine Samuels would get them to 21 in the fourth, finishing the game out on a pair of free throws to put him at a team high eight points. It wasn’t until the fourth that anyone even matched DiLeo, who scored all eight of his points in the second quarter.
Of the starters, the brightest spot came from Brown, who had eight himself with a pair of steals. He was marginal for the most part, but it was Nesmith and Nembhard that really had rough nights, combining for seven points on 2-18 shooting and eight turnovers. Nesmith alone had five, including six fouls, doing little of note on the offensive end. Nembhard meanwhile had five assists, but his looks also bricked out, shooting 0-4 from three as Indiana finished a lowly 6-36 against Phoenix’s zone.
To round out the starters, Boatwright and Hinton each had four, bringing the total points for the starters to 23, which is astronomically high considering they had just nine points as a unit towards the midway point of the third quarter. That led to the bench carrying the scoring load, getting decent contributions from each of the seven players.
With DiLeo and Samuels leading the way, Fanbo Zeng had his best scoring night with seven, hitting a three and shooting 4-4 from the free throw line. Simi Shittu came off the bench tonight, but had a solid night with six points, seven boards, and three blocks. He was joined by Eli Brooks and Gabe York with six each, York the only player to hit multiple threes and Brooks dishing four assists. Tevin Brown rounded things out with five points.
It was a bit of a disappointing finish for the Summer Pacers after a strong start, but it was clear from the jump the best contributions were coming from Bennedict Mathurin and last year’s rotation players. That left Brown, Nembhard, and Nesmith to carry the load after they were sat for the remainder of the event, none of them really stepping up big.
So it’ll be interesting to see how the front office responds to these games. As a whole, the trio did show enough across the entire Summer League to suggest they can be part of the team for the upcoming season, but it’s hard to say who beyond that might have a shot.
The end of Summer League means a lengthy summer of no real NBA action to speak of. There are still plenty of big name players that could yet be on the move, something the Pacers can be a part of in varying capacity, but beyond that, it will be September 28th before the start of training camp leading up to the 2022-23 season.