GAME RECAP: Pacers 119, Hornets 80

Domantas Sabonis leads a balanced attack scoring 21 points with 15 rebounds and nine assists versus Charlotte, 119-80.

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GAME RECAP: Pacers 119, Hornets 80

Domantas Sabonis leads a balanced attack scoring 21 points with 15 rebounds and nine assists versus Charlotte, 119-80.
Feb 25, 2020  |  00:01

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Feb. 25, 2020

Feb. 25, 2020 - Domantas Sabonis, T.J. Warren, and Justin Holiday respond to the 119-80 victory over the Charlotte Hornets Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Feb 25, 2020  |  02:03

Brogdon Sinks The Three

Feb 25, 2020  |  00:05

McDermott Dunks It Home

Feb 25, 2020  |  00:07

Turner Hits From Deep

Feb 25, 2020  |  00:08

Warren Steal and Slam

Feb 25, 2020  |  00:06

Pacers Bounce Back in a Big Way

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

It was just like them, wasn't it? Actually, it was even more like them than usual.

The Pacers have made a habit all season of responding to their worst losses with their best victories, virtual makeup calls that reflect their pride and resilience but leave questions about their collective mindset.

Tuesday's 119-80 victory over Charlotte at Bankers Life Fieldhouse was the latest example of their knack for disaster clean-up, a wire-to-wire domination that nearly made NBA history. They could have become the first team to follow a loss of 40 or more points with a victory of 40 or more but passed on that opportunity by purposely dribbling out the shot clock in the final seconds.

Still, the accomplishment was nearly the same. Or maybe it's only a semi-accomplishment, one that could be avoided in the first place by not suffering the "bad" losses such as Sunday's 46-point collapse in Toronto. Overcoming those defeats as they did on Tuesday at least says something about them that isn't half-bad.

"We care," Justin Holiday said. "But at the same time, for whatever reason, we have to figure out a way to fix (the one-sided losses). Sometimes you have to get slapped in the face to figure that out."

The Pacers have been figuring that out throughout the season with a remarkably consistent show of inconsistency. Such as:

  • They followed their 19-point homecourt loss to Milwaukee on Nov. 16 with a 29-point victory at Brooklyn.
  • They followed their 11-point homecourt loss to the Clippers on Dec. 9 — a game they trailed by as many as 24 points — with a five-point victory over Boston.
  • They followed their 28-point loss at Milwaukee on Dec. 22 with a five-point homecourt overtime victory over Toronto the following night.
  • They followed their 14-point homecourt loss to Miami on Jan. 8 — a game they trailed by as many as 31 points — with an 11-point victory at Chicago.
  • They followed their 30-point loss at Utah on Jan. 20 with a 25-point victory at Phoenix.

And now they have followed up their 46-point loss in Toronto with a 39-point victory in which they led by 43 points midway through the fourth quarter. One could argue the six aforementioned losses are their worst of the season, given the final margin and the failure to meet the challenge of playing an elite team. But five of the six victories that followed are among the best, the exception being the win over a struggling Bulls team.

"We're a bounce-back team," T.J. Warren said. "The last game, there was no excuse for that. They gave it to us bad. We just wanted to respond to that."

The Hornets (19-38) offered one of the more comfortable soft-landing zones for a Pacers team with a perilous injury report. Victor Oladipo missed his second straight game with a lower back sprain, but shouldn't be out much longer. But his replacement starter and intended backup, Jeremy Lamb, is lost for the season with a major knee injury suffered in Toronto. What better team to face under those circumstances then than the Hornets, who were without their starting shooting guard, co-leading scorer Devonte' Graham, and were coming off a 29-point homecourt loss to Brooklyn?

Charlotte is last in the NBA in scoring and last in field goal percentage, and the Pacers took advantage by doing what Oladipo talked about following Monday's practice: they directed their focus to defense, and did so from the opening tip. That led to better offense, as it tends to do, and enabled them to win the first quarter for just the second time in the past 10 games. They easily won the first three quarters, in fact, avoiding their nasty habit of giving back comfortable leads.

JaKarr Sampson, Cody Martin

Photo Credit: Matt Kryger

It all added up to a box score full of plump stat lines.

Domantas Sabonis finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and nine assists, just shy of a fifth triple-double that would have tied Lance Stephenson's franchise record for a season. It was easily within his reach, but he was pulled with 7:42 left when the lead had peaked at 43. Warren scored 19 points, 15 in the first half, and hit 9-of-12 shots. Justin Holiday, moved to a backup shooting guard role in place of Lamb, scored 16 off the bench. JaKarr Sampson, given a rare extended opportunity, scored 10 points, all on dunks and layups, in 19 minutes.

That wasn't all.

Asked which individual performance stood out to him, Nate McMillan went with Malcolm Brogdon. Noticeably quicker and more accurate than in recent weeks, Brogdon scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and hit 2-of-3 3-pointers while adding six rebounds and seven assists.

"It was good to see Malcolm knock down some shots," McMillan said. "He's been missing looks that he's been knocking down. Tonight, the shots fell for him. He had both of his assist game and perimeter game going."

Asked which performance stood out to him, Justin Holiday went with Myles Turner. Noticeably more aggressive around the basket than in recent weeks, Turner blocked a career-high eight shots and tempted his first career triple-double by scoring six points and grabbing 10 rebounds in just 27 1/2 minutes.

"We needed to set the tone earlier and I wanted to make my presence felt," said Turner, who had four of his blocks in the first quarter. "It's something I'm capable of doing night-in and night-out. I wanted to make a concerted effort of doing that tonight."

Turner led the NBA in blocked shots last season with a 2.7 average. He raised his average to 2.0 with Tuesday's rejections but is well behind league leader Hassan Whiteside (3.1), who will be in the Fieldhouse on Thursday with Portland.

"I don't think I'll be able to catch Whiteside, but that's the goal I have every year," Turner said. "I'm an elite defender and I have to play like it every night."

Play like it every night. All of the Pacers would do well to make that a habit the rest of the season.


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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