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Pacers Summer League final score: Pacers cruise past Hornets 96-84

Indiana’s starting lineup left no doubt against Charlotte, picking up a win in their opening Summer League game. Bennedict Mathurin impressed with 23 points.

2022 NBA Summer League - Charlotte Hornets v Indiana Pacers Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers showed out in their NBA 2K23 Summer League debut, swatting the Charlotte Hornets. The Summer Pacers were led the entire way by their starting lineup, featuring three rotation players from last season and their top two draft picks this summer. Those starters, led by Bennedict Mathurin, took over the game from the jump, outscoring the Hornets by 14 by the time the bench started rolling in.

Mathurin led the way with eight points in those opening minutes, including the game’s opening basket, an open three courtesy of Andrew Nembhard.

Not surprisingly, the second unit didn’t quite have the same pop as the starters, but Duane Washington Jr. and Kendall Brown each provided a slight punch to keep the Hornets at bay. Each of their threes, with an additional triple from Bennie Boatwright, was a big part of Indiana’s offense in the second quarter given their extended struggles inside the arc.

Despite shooting just 7-30 from two in the first half (7-18 from three), the Pacers somehow managed to hold onto the lead at the break, leading 42-37 at the break following an Isaiah Jackson tip to end the second. After some lackluster minutes to close the half, the starting unit came alive in the third quarter, burying the Hornets for good.

The Summer Pacers outscored Charlotte 24-8 to start the quarter, posting highlight after highlight after highlight, be it a Nembhard steal leading to a Mathurin transition three,

an emphatic Jackson jam, or a breakaway Mathurin outlet to Chris Duarte off the backboard back to Mathurin.

While Charlotte would finish the game out with a 34-point fourth quarter, the starting lineup for the Pacers would keep a comeback out of reach due to their opening runs in the first and third quarters. Mathurin led the way with a game high 23 points, shooting an impressive 9-16 from the floor, even as he left most of his looks well short in the second quarter.

Mathurin got plenty of opportunities in his Summer League debut, but never bogged down the offense to get his own looks. He showed an ability to not only create his own shot, but did so after being assisted on for his first three baskets. Two of those opening assists were courtesy of Duarte, who had a relatively quiet night from the floor, just 3-7, using a pair of three-point fouls to pile up an impressive 9-9 from the free throw line.

Even as Mathurin gets the headlines, Duarte may have been the most impressive Pacer overall. In a perfect showcase to prove he’s too good for the Summer League, Duarte had shockingly composed game for the setting, finishing with 16 points and four assists, committing zero turnovers.

That composure carried over to the rest of the team to the tune of just nine turnovers on the night, a pair each from Nembhard and Fanbo Zeng, each coming up with two steals for good measure. Short of some rebounding issues in the first half and some ill-advised challenges against Charlotte’s interior defense, there wasn’t much to complain about from a team perspective, forcing 18 turnovers.

Terry Taylor was the third starter in double figures with 11 points, starting off strong in true Terry Taylor fashion, following an offensive rebound with a layup. Taylor had seven boards as well, leading the way with Jackson, who fell a point shy of a double double with nine and 12.

Jackson had his struggles tonight fighting against Charlotte’s interior bigs, shooting just 3-10. He had four blocks in the first half, but Indiana was only able to turn one of those blocks into a change of possession, which helped the Summer Hornets climb back into the game in the second quarter, pulling in 14 offensive boards for the game.

Off the bench, Washington led the way with 10 points, looking quite good in the flow of the offense, but his isolation plays led to some less than ideal results, finishing the game just 3-12 overall. He did lead the way with six assists, four of those going to the rookie Brown, helping to open up Brown’s game in the second half, finishing with nine.

The Summer Pacers played a fairly tight rotation tonight, only going 10 deep with Gabe York dishing four assists, including one to Boatwright who had nine. Zeng meanwhile finished with four, scoring twice on fantastic fast break finishes, but was a true revolving door on defense, something that will have to be tightened up as the Summer League progresses.

As always, we probably shouldn’t be taking anything concrete from these games even if it was encouraging to see everyone show up that should’ve shown up. That doesn’t mean they’ll have the same success when they take the court on Sunday afternoon, but for a guy like Duarte, it’s hard to believe he will play the full Summer League schedule. The Pacers will take on the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, a 3 p.m. Eastern tip.