Another day, another come from behind victory for the Indiana Pacers, extending their home winning streak to six with a late win over the Charlotte Hornets. It was a back-and-forth game throughout the evening, one that favored Charlotte for long stretches tonight, including through much of the fourth, until the Pacers locked in defensively in the final minute.
Indiana had grown accustomed to comebacks tonight, needing to respond to three separate Hornets pushes across the final three quarters after a terrible first quarter found them down by double figures. The Pacers led 15-14 midway through the first, but wouldn’t score another point the rest of the quarter, allowing 15 straight to fall behind 29-15 early in the second.
Jalen Smith snapped the run with Indiana’s first three pointer of the game, thought that did little to change the flow of things on its own especially when Smith picked up his third foul two minutes later. With the starters returning, the Pacers finally began making headway, closing the gap to four on a 9-0 run, but would require an extra five minutes to finally take a lead.
Things looked up for Indiana at halftime. They led by just two, but seemed to be in a good position to build on their lead, that is until LaMelo Ball opened the second half with back-to-back threes to instantly put the Hornets on top. By this point, Indiana’s three point shooting had woken up a bit, especially courtesy of Andrew Nembhard, who hit a pair to regain the lead, eventually pushing the advantage out to four on a Tyrese Haliburton triple.
Once again, the Pacers were unable to maintain that push, struggling to finish out possessions, opening the door for Charlotte to close the third with 10 straight, Ball making it 13 straight to begin the fourth. Better effort on the glass helped keep the deficit from reaching double figures, allowing Indiana to come all the way back, tying it up at 85-85 with eight minutes remaining.
Charlotte did a great job keeping Indiana from regaining the lead from that point, scoring on nine of their next 11 possessions to fend off a fairly strong Pacers push, featuring eight points from Myles Turner. After failing to regain the lead on three separate opportunities, P.J. Washington hit a huge three with 1:22 remaining to give the Hornets a 107-104 lead.
The Pacers immediately came up with a response however, with Haliburton feeding Turner for a layup and one opportunity to tie the game at 107-107. On the other end, they finally got a stop when Buddy Hield blocked Ball beyond the three point arc, resulting in Ball committing his sixth foul with a kick, setting up Hield to finally break the Pacers into the lead at the free throw line.
A second stop, a fourth steal from Aaron Nesmith, got Haliburton to the line this time, a fastbreak opportunity halted by Mason Plumlee, giving the Pacers a 110-107 lead. Up three, Indiana sealed the win on the defensive end with a dagger block from Turner against Plumlee, wrapping up Indiana’s comeback win.
The block was Turner’s fourth of the night, wrapping up a phenomenal outing for the big fella, leading all scorers with 29 points, pulling in seven rebounds. Turner had it going all night, hitting a corner three and a nice end of shot clock fadeaway. Seven of his 10 field goals came delivered from Haliburton, including a particularly nasty dunk in which Haliburton faked a pass, looked off of Turner, and still find him for the flush.
That was part of 13 assists total for Haliburton, scoring 16 points. He was just 4-10 from the field (2-6 from three), but he did work his way to the line for a 6-6 night, the second most makes on the team behind Turner, who was 8-10. Nesmith meanwhile had seven attempts himself, hitting five.
Those free throws totaled a 15-point night from Nesmith, offering up a ton of effort plays with six rebounds and four steals. He was joined by Nembard with four steals himself, as Indiana totaled 14 on the night, leading to 23 points off turnovers. Nembhard was Indiana’s most reliable shooter tonight, connecting on four of his five attempts, all coming at times when Indiana needed to work themselves back into the game, finishing with 19.
Hield meanwhile also hit four, but was far from consistent, shooting 4-12 and 7-21 overall, but had two of those threes connect in the fourth, also aiding in the fourth quarter comeback. Hield’s shooting has found its level somewhat after a scorching stretch, shooting just 42% from three in the last five games, which only seems like a slump when compared to 66% in the seven games prior. He still finished with 21, including the huge block on Ball in the final minutes.
The second unit didn’t quite have the same success as the starters. Smith would lead the way with seven points, logging just 14 minutes due to foul trouble. Smith’s seven were part of just 16 total bench points, which forced Rick Carlisle into a tighter rotation, limiting Chris Duarte to four minutes and losing T.J. McConnell to a shoulder injury in the second half. Even Bennedict Mathurin wasn’t able to get much going, scoring just four on 1-9 shooting, but did have five rebounds, three assists, and a steal.
Through three quarters, the Hornets controlled the game on the glass, outrebounding the Pacers by 13, which was also the number of offensive rebounds they had to that point, as well the amount second chance points they amassed. That didn’t pair too well with both teams hovering around 40% for the game.
Oshae Brissett helped change that, pulling in six of his 10 rebounds in the fourth quarter, including three offensive boards that led to four second chance points. Brissett’s six rebounds eclipsed Charlotte’s total for the quarters as the Pacers outrebounded them 10-5 in the fourth quarter. He finished with five points for the game.
The Pacers improve themselves to 23-18 at the midway point of the season, which is just two shy of their total from last season. They’re currently on pace for 46 wins should they stay the course, which would be prove a remarkable turnaround for a Pacers team that were expected to be around 23 wins for the season.
Of course, a lot can change in the next three months, but in the meantime, they’ll look to keep rolling with another one-game road trip coming up for Wednesday, a rematch against the New York Knicks. Indiana had gone 8-2 since that loss, the second best mark in the East over that stretch.