Pacers Looking to Correct Mistakes After Saturday's Loss

Feb. 2, 2020 - Pacers point guard Malcolm Brogdon and head coach Nate McMillan discuss what the Blue & Gold need to fix after Saturday's 92-85 loss to the New York Knicks.

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Pacers Looking to Correct Mistakes After Saturday's Loss

Feb. 2, 2020 - Pacers point guard Malcolm Brogdon and head coach Nate McMillan discuss what the Blue & Gold need to fix after Saturday's 92-85 loss to the New York Knicks.
Feb 2, 2020  |  02:03

Pacers Lose Warren, Looking for Challengers

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

For all of five minutes and five seconds, the Pacers' intended starting lineup was intact for the first time this season in the Pacers' game against New York on Saturday. Don't look for any repeat appearances anytime soon, though.

T.J. Warren suffered a concussion in the third quarter of the game and will have to go through the NBA's mandated protocol before returning. That means he will miss at least Monday's game against Dallas at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That also means the Pacers will be looking to fill another gap in the starting lineup, this time for the only team member who has appeared in every game.

Coach Nate McMillan said he wasn't yet sure who will start in Warren's place against the Mavericks. What he's sure of is that whoever plays has to come out with more energy than the group that scored 11 points in the first quarter against the Knicks. The Pacers appears to have a heightened energy level in Sunday's workout at St. Vincent Center, but then McMillan thought they had a good practice the day before the loss to the Knicks, too.

"I've stopped reading into guys at shootaround or walkthrough or (studying) body language," he said. "We didn't have the urgency. I don't know why we didn't have that."

McMillan was a point guard once, so much of a leader that his jersey number (10) was retired by the Seattle SuperSonics despite the fact he came off the bench more than he started in his 12-season career. He knows all about the inevitable lulls in the NBA season, and remembers what he tried to do about them as a team captain.

He spoke up and challenged his teammates. Sunday, he challenged his players to do the same.

"I said some things," he recalled. "And I think we have to. That's the 'challenging' part, that we're better than this, we're not going to sit here and let each other continue to play like this. Figure out how to stop them. Figure out how to rebound the basketball. Communicating; just talking to each other out there.

"If the shots are not falling, find something else to do. We have to play both sides of the ball. It's not football. You have to play both sides of the ball."

The Pacers are a quiet group on the whole, particularly the starters, but are in particular need of challenging themselves since the return of Victor Oladipo. Integrating him into a lineup that had exceeded general expectations before Wednesday was bound to include some rough patches such as Saturday's 92-85 loss to a Knicks team that has won just 14 games this season.

McMillan says he will stick with the agreed-upon plan to bring Oladipo off the bench and cap his playing time at 24 minutes until the NBA All-Star break. That doesn't mean he can't play Oladipo with Warren, Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner, and Domantas Sabonis after Warren returns in stretches of games, though, as he did in the first and second quarters on Saturday.

That obviously will be the starting unit going forward after the break, health permitting, so every minute that group gets together will be meaningful. The trick will be to do it without sacrificing games. And egos.

Brogdon, being the point guard of the group (and one who had 12 assists on Saturday), will play the biggest role in accomplishing that. How to do it?

"Focus on playing good basketball, still winning, still getting people their shots, still trying to play to people's strengths no matter how many minutes they're playing," he said.

That includes getting the most out of Oladipo, who has hit 4-of-22 shots in his first two games back.

"Speak confidence into him and feed him the rock," Brogdon said. "He's a guy who has to shoot the ball."

More than anything, however, Oladipo simply needs to play to work off the rust formed by his year layoff from game action.

"I'm just missing," he said following Saturday's game, when he hit 2-of-14 shots. "It's a rhythm thing, obviously. The speed of the game is different than practicing or playing with the (Fort Wayne) Mad Ants. It's different than a real NBA game. I just have to get used to that rhythm again. It will take some time...just have to keep working and keep the same mindset and everything will take care of itself."

Oladipo isn't the only Pacer in need of the ball on offensive, though. Turner has had to make the biggest sacrifice this season. He averages fewer shots (9.4) than all the other starters and fewer than six other teammates on a per-minute basis.

That was evident on Saturday when he took just one shot while playing 13 minutes in the first half. McMillan called a play for him to start the second half and he hit a 3-pointer off Brogdon's feed. He went on to hit two more 3-pointers in the third quarter and another on the Pacers' first possession of the fourth to give them their only lead of the game.

He finished with five field goal attempts in 33 1/2 minutes. He said afterward that accepting a reduced role in the offense has sometimes taken him out of an aggressive mindset.

"I just think I have to make more of a point to be more aggressive with my opportunities," Turner said. "I'm clearly not shooting the ball as much as I'm accustomed to. But when I do get those shots they have to go up. My teammates encourage me to shoot the ball. There's times in practice where I won't shoot it and everybody's telling me you have to shoot the ball. Having that encouragement behind me makes it that much easier."

McMillan OK with Call

The Pacers were at the losing end of a controversial call midway through the third quarter of Saturday's game when Brogdon was called for a flagrant foul on Kadeem Allen's 3-point shot.

Brogdon originally was called for a foul, but an official's review of the call resulted in it being changed to a flagrant when many fans were expecting the original foul to be erased. Brogdon had extended his foot to the 3-point line while challenging the shot and Allen's momentum took him into Brogdon's leg and caused him to fall.

Former Pacer Reggie Miller tweeted after the game, "I may have witnessed the WORST Flagrant 1 foul called EVER."

McMillan, however, said Sunday he didn't challenge the ruling because he thought the referees had adhered to the ruling that was instituted after San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard suffered a sprained ankle in a playoff game against Golden State in 2017 upon falling on Zaza Pachulia's foot on a 3-point attempt.

The ruling was instituted the following September and became casually known as the "Zaza Pachulia Rule." It states a defender can be called for a flagrant foul if he does not allow room for the shooter to land safely.


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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