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GAME RECAP: Nuggets 125, Pacers 117

Nikola Jokic records a double-double with 30 points and 17 boards, along with five assists as the Nuggets top the Pacers on the road.

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GAME RECAP: Nuggets 125, Pacers 117

Nikola Jokic records a double-double with 30 points and 17 boards, along with five assists as the Nuggets top the Pacers on the road.
Mar 24, 2017  |  01:49

Turner Runs the Floor

March 24, 2017 - After a Nikola Jokić miss, Myles Turner runs the break and throws down a vicious one-handed slam.
Mar 24, 2017  |  00:13

Postgame Wrap Up: Pacers-Nuggets - March 24, 2017

March 24, 2017 - The Pacers fell to the Denver Nuggets 125-117 Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Pacers.com's Lauryn Gray breaks down the Blue and Gold's tough loss.
Mar 24, 2017  |  02:41

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - March 24, 2017

March 24, 2017 - Pacers players Thad Young, Jeff Teague, and Paul George discussed Indiana's 125-117 loss to the Denver Nuggets Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Mar 24, 2017  |  02:07

Turner's Block Leads to PG's Three

March 24, 2017 - Myles Turner swats away Wilson Chandler's shot, then Paul George knocks down the step-back 3-pointer on the other end.
Mar 24, 2017  |  00:11

Hickory Halftime: Judi Warren, Indiana's First Miss Basketball

March 24, 2017 - Warsaw's Judi Warren, who was named Indiana's first IndyStar Miss Basketball in 1976, speaks with Pacers broadcast Chris Denari at halftime of Friday's Hickory Game.
Mar 24, 2017  |  05:50

Postgame: Nuggets Locker Room - March 24, 2017

March 24, 2017 - Nuggets head coach Michael Malone and rising star Nikola Jokic discuss the keys to their recent success.
Mar 24, 2017  |  01:14

C.J.'s Circus Shot

March 24, 2017 - C.J. Miles tries to draw the foul and doesn't get the call, but still manages to knock down the leaning 3-point shot.
Mar 24, 2017  |  00:08

Teague Goes Coast to Coast

March 24, 2017 - The Pacers strip the ball from Nikola Jokic, then Jeff Teague takes the ball coast to coast for the layup.
Mar 24, 2017  |  00:08

Brooks Buries the Trey

March 24, 2017 - Aaron Brooks comes off the bench and knocks down the pull-up 3-pointer to help the Pacers' chip away at an early deficit.
Mar 24, 2017  |  00:07

First Block for the Birthday Boy

March 24, 2017 - Celebrating his 21st birthday, Pacers center Myles Turner rises up to reject Will Barton's floater.
Mar 24, 2017  |  00:06

Defense Leads to Offense

March 24, 2017 - The Pacers gets a steal, then Thaddeus Young leads the break and finds Myles Turner with a spinning dish for the dunk.
Mar 24, 2017  |  00:10

Teague's Nice Cut

March 24, 2017 - Paul George passes to C.J. Miles posting up on the block, then Miles finds a cutting Jeff Teague for the early layup.
Mar 24, 2017  |  00:10

Game Rewind: Pacers 117, Nuggets 125

Friday, March 24, 2017 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
by Greg Rappaport
Pacers.com Writer
@Greg_Rappaport

Game Recap

With the race for the playoffs intensifying in the East, the Pacers ended up falling to a team from the West, dropping their Hickory Night game against the Denver Nuggets 125-117 on Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Pacers made an inspired run at was at one point more than a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter, cutting the Nuggets' lead down to just 111-103 with 3:17 remaining in the game.

But despite Indiana's late 14-4 run, the Pacers were unable to complete what would've been the team's most improbable comeback of the season.

The loss sends the Pacers (36-36) to .500 for the first time since January 23rd, as Indiana was overwhelmed by the lights-out shooting of the Nuggets, who finished the game making 48 percent of their shots and outscoring the Pacers in three of the four quarters.

"I don't think we were aggressive enough on both ends," Pacers guard Jeff Teague said after the game. "We've got to play like our life is on the line, like it is. We've got to be aggressive and leave it all out there. It's a bad loss at home. We didn't come out to play."

Second-year center Nikola Jokic was a burden for the Pacers all night, racking up an impressive 30-point, 17-rebound, five-assist night for the Nuggets.

In the first half, it became clear early on that Jokic would be a handful. The center helped set the table for a 14-3 Nuggets run in the first quarter, giving Denver an early edge on the Pacers.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Track the Pacers' Playoff Push »

In the second quarter, Indiana's second unit helped cut into Denver's advantage, getting the score down to a 38-35 Nuggets lead. But with Jokic and the starters back in the game, Denver opened up yet another run, this time breaking off eight unanswered points to ensure the Nuggets would finish the half with a double-digit advantage.

A late Pacers burst of offense whittled Indiana's deficit to just 11 at the break, but Jokic had amassed an eye-popping 21 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists through the first two quarters of play.

"You can't come out flat and lifeless like that," said Thaddeus Young of the Pacers' start. "We did find a way to pick up some energy, we've got to build on what we did at the end of the game, as opposed to what we did in the beginning."

The Nuggets opened up the third quarter the way they left off, finding quick offense with Wilson Chandler (24 points) and using Jokic to distribute the ball. A 3-pointer from Jameer Nelson midway through the third gave the Nuggets a whopping 21-point lead, their largest of the night at that point.

From there, Indiana once again leaned on the play of Aaron Brooks and the second unit to attempt a comeback bid. At one point, Brooks canned back-to-back 3-pointers, trimming the second-half deficit back down to 13 points. But even with Brooks' perimeter shooting, the Nuggets outscored the Pacers for the third quarter in a row, taking a 94-75 lead into the fourth and final quarter at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

In the fourth, Paul George was able to ignite the crowd, sending in 3-pointers on two possessions in a row, but the Nuggets still owned a 107-91 lead at that point with just 7:12 left in the game.

Even as the game seemed out of reach, a flush from Myles Turner brought the score to 111-98 with just over four minutes remaining. All of the sudden, thanks to a spot-up 3-pointer from Jeff Teague, the Pacers managed to cut the deficit down to single digits, trailing by just eight with 3:17 left in the game.

But even as they trapped and pressured on defense in the final minutes, Jokic struck again, nailing a 3-pointer to put the game away for the visiting Nuggets.

As the games remaining in the season dwindles, the Pacers now must take full advantage of the final two games of their three-game home stand, which each come against teams with sub-.500 records (76ers and Timberwolves).

"We're fighting for a spot, this is desperate times, desperate basketball," George said after the game. "There is no motivation that needs to be said. We don't need none of that. It's at hand. The job that we've got to do is make the playoffs and win games. That's it."

Inside the Numbers

The Nuggets made 40-of-43 free throws on the night. The Pacers got to the line just 11 times, making eight.

Paul George led the Pacers in scoring with 27. Three Indiana players scored at least 20 points on the night (Teague and Turner).

Monta Ellis made 7-of-10 field goals off the bench for 17 points.

You Can Quote Me On That

"We waited a little too late to get aggressive. We need to start the game that way instead of waiting until the fourth quarter. We put up a 42-point quarter in the fourth. We were getting stops defensively and pushing the ball offensively. It's a mindset that you come out and approach the game with (being aggressive). That didn't happen tonight. You have to find a way to change your approach. Everybody is going to be playing hard. That urgency, playing together, has to be there at the start." -Pacers head coach Nate McMillan

"We've got to understand where we are at, that's all that comes down to. We're fighting for a spot, this is desperate times, desperate basketball. There is no motivation that needs to be said." -Paul George

"They jumped out on us the same way they did in the first game. We didn't impose our will on them until the end. You can't come out flat and lifeless like that. We did find a way to pick up some energy, we've got to build on what we did at the end of the game, as opposed to what we did in the beginning." -Thaddeus Young

Noteworthy

  • Jeff Teague finished with 21 points and dished out a game-high eight assists. He has now scored 20+ points in three straight games
  • The Nuggets have now won 10 of the last 12 regular season games over the Pacers
  • Myles Turner finished with 20 points as he shot 9-for-16 from the field to go with four blocks on the day of his 21st birthday

Stat of the Night

Despite the Nuggets' night on offense, Indiana shot better from the field, making 50.5 percent of its shots. But the free throw disparity ended up making the difference, as the Nuggets took 43 trips to the free throw line compared to just 11 for the Pacers.

Up Next

The Pacers will get a chance to get back on track during a 6 PM ET Sunday meeting with the Philadelphia 76ers. Find Tickets »

Home Court Gift Shop Game Night Special

Hickory Jerseys - 50% Off. Game Night Specials can be purchased in the Home Court Gift Shop or any of our souvenir stands located on all levels of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The special is also available online at PacersGear.com until midnight.