Pacers look to bounce back against Suns after frustrating loss to Blazers
Pascal Siakam's debut with the Pacers was spoiled by the end result in Portland.
Pascal Siakam as a Pacer showed so much promise early in his debut, a four-minute stretch of the first quarter when he scored at all three levels, concluding with a layup to put the Pacers up 22-17 with just over five minutes remaining in the quarter.
When we last saw Tyrese Haliburton, he was being carried off the floor like James Johnson was trying to transport his oldest son to bed after he had fallen asleep in the car. Fortunately, the frighting fall Haliburton took to tweak his hammy was not as severe as initially feared, allowing the Pacers All-Star to return earlier than expected alongside Siakam. Haliburton added 21 points and 17 assists, although didn’t seem to be at 100 percent despite the gaudy numbers. Now his status to play on Sunday evening against the Suns is in question.
Myles Turner played as if he has been waiting his entire life to run next to Siakam. His level of aggression or confidence or whatever, was noticeable as he delivered 29 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks against the Blazers. In fact, he had a few offensive attempts that were a bit much for his skill set, but better to reign him in than beg for more.
So…with all of the above, the Pacers were still unable to beat the Blazers, instead never being able to get over the hump with their fourth-quarter rally before losing 124-121. Nothing productive will come from highlighting referee Scott Foster, nor the seeming disparity of fouls simply on missed shots around the rim, so I won’t.
The first problems was that former Pacer, Malcolm Brogdon made it his job to disrupt any feel good start to the Siakam era for the Pacers, drawing several of those fouls and finishing with a season-high 30 points. Jerami Grant made it his job to make the Pacers question why they didn’t send three first-round picks to grab him in a trade as he scored early and often from all three levels to finish with 37 points.
The main place where the Pacers fell short was with their reserve unit, most of whom had delivered an incredible effort the night before as the starting unit. Bennedict Mathurin was 0fer the game on 8 shots, as a group the bench was 4 for 24 which force Carlisle to minimize their minutes and lean too heavily on Haliburton returning from injury and Siakam who had just met his teammates.
So, yeah. The Blazers swept the 2-game season series against the Pacers which takes some shine off the big wins the team has enjoyed earlier in the season. The road trip ends on Sunday night in Phoenix which will be no easy task against the Suns. Then the Pacers return home to face the Nuggets, Sixers and Suns in a three-games in four-days stretch starting on Tuesday.
The team spent Saturday in Tucson instead of Phoenix in support of Bennedict Mathurin who has honored by Arizona before their game against UCLA. Benn was added to the Wildcats’ Ring of Honor, as Dustin Dopirak reported.
Still, it was meaningful for Mathurin to be inducted, and meaningful to have most of his teammates there to see it. Arizona athletes can earn induction in the Ring of Honor automatically based on several criteria, one being Pac-12 Player of the Year. Mathurin was Pac-12 Player of the Year as a sophomore for the Wildcats in 2021-22 when he averaged 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for an Arizona squad that went 33-4 overall, 18-2 in the Pac-12 to win the conference before losing to Houston in the Sweet 16.
Now the Pacers face the Suns who are riding a four-game winning streak while leaning on a lineup that can heat up in a hurry from behind the arc. The Pacers will need to rebound their misses and more importantly, make them defend at the other end. This one sets up like a the motha of all ‘make or miss’ games, assuming Haliburton can give it a go.
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix AZ
When: Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024, 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan
Odds: Pacers +4.5
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Aaron Nesmith, Pascal Siakam, Myles Turner
Suns: Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Grayson Allen, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkic
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton (hamstring) - questionable, Andrew Nembhard (back) - questionable, Isaiah Jackson (concussion) - out
Suns: Jordan Goodwin (ankle) - probable, Bol Bol (foot sprain) - out, Damion Lee (knee) - out
Indy Cornrows with Tom Lewis is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.