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Pacers Don't Get Start They'd Hoped For

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

July 7, 2013

ORLANDO – The Pacers didn’t open their Summer League session quite how they hoped. In a mid-day game on Sunday, the Oklahoma City Thunder topped the Pacers 76-68 in Orlando.

Participating in the Summer League for the second consecutive year, Miles Plumlee opened the game with an impressive right-hook jumper. That 2-0 lead, however, was Indiana’s largest of the game. Poor shooting and careless turnovers put them behind the 8-ball.

“I think it was adrenaline, nervousness maybe, and newness,” said Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke, who’s in charge of this group. “They had us on our heals. We take pride in hitting first every time. They hit us first and dictated how the game was going to be played.”

By halftime, the Pacers trailed by just five, 32-27, despite turning the ball over nine times and shooting just 34.5 percent. Late in the first half, seven different Pacers had scored but no player had more than one bucket.

Photo Gallery: Pacers 68, Thunder 76 »

Indiana came out much more relaxed, yet aggressive in the second half. They used an 11-2 run to draw within one, and two free throws from Orlando Johnson could have put the Pacers back in front since the early moments of the game. But Johnson, who had a team-high 17 points—eight coming at the line—missed both attempts. Entering the fourth, the Pacers were playing confidently and together, and trailed by two.

With less than three minutes to play, a 3-pointer from Johnson trimmed the Thunder’s lead to five. But the Pacers would allow an offensive rebound, which led to an easy layup for Dwight Buycks on a cut towards the hoop. Then, they handed it over on their next possession resulting in a triple from Buycks. At that point, their deficit was double-digits and the game was beyond reach.

The Pacers struggled with the deep ball, connecting on just 4-of-18 from outside, and while they attempted 30 foul shots, they missed 14 throws.

Game 2 for the Pacers is on Monday at 1 p.m. EST against Philadelphia.

Plumlee Feeling – and Looking – Comfortable

Miles Plumlee had an encouraging first game – nine points, nine rebounds, six blocks, three assists, two steals and no turnovers in over 29 minutes. He protected the rim, helped his teammates and hustled on both ends. Before heading to Orlando, coach Burke requested double figure rebounds from Plumlee. Grabbing nine, he didn’t achieve that goal but Burke was satisfied.

“I thought he kept several balls alive,” said Burke, “so I’ll be kind and say he has 13 or 14 rebounds. He had some great activity and I thought some good post moves.”

Plumlee on his showing: “I felt really comfortable out there. Things are just slowing down. I felt a little bit more confident on both ends and I felt like I could just go for stuff and I think that’s what led to all the blocks.”

His confidence was obvious. In the paint, he snatched up a half-dozen shots and affected many more. Plumlee has been watching Roy Hibbert go straight up all year, now it’s a weapon he’s trying to develop. He’s worked on it this summer, and now real repetitions are beneficial.

“I thought he should’ve had nine or 10 blocks,” Burke said. “He’s mastering that straight-up. And as soon as he does it with two hands more consistently, he’s going to be really effective. There’s always room for improvement but we’ll start with six blocks.”

Sloan’s Debut

Today’s game was Donald Sloan’s first in a Pacers uniform. Last week he signed a multi-year deal to join the team.

Sloan has fundamentally sound handles, though he did pound it on the floor a bit too much. He likes slipping through screens, getting into the paint and finding an open teammate. A couple times he did get caught in the air and thus turning it over – including one critical sequence late.

“I think we need to do a better job of getting the floor a little more open for him to create,” Burke explained. “They were sending him one way and keeping him on the same side of the floor too much.”

The Pacers’ struggles to shoot the 3-point ball hindered what Sloan was trying to accomplish and made them that easier to guard. Despite all that, Plumlee is excited to work with Sloan.

“I’ve got a lot of excitement after playing with him,” he said. “I know there were a little miscommunication on my part setting the screens but I haven’t played with a lot of guards that are that shifty and can change direction on a moment’s notice.

“I’m excited because I know once I start reading it right and setting him good screens, he’s going find me and other guys and I think he’s going to be a great addition.”

Notes

  • First-round pick Solomon Hill made all three of his field goals and made 2-of-4 free throws for nine points. He pulled down four rebounds and had two assists. He finished with three turnovers but all three were in the first quarter.
  • Pacers starters: Donald Sloan, Orlando Johnson, Solomon Hill, Justin Harper and Miles Plumlee.
  • Jonny Flynn, Julian Mavunga, Angelo Sharpless and Djibril Thiam did not play.
  • Pacers officials in attendance: Larry Bird, Kevin Pritchard, Peter Dinwiddie, Frank Vogel, Nate McMillan, Ryan Carr, Jimmy Powell, and Clark Kellogg.

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