Bennedict Mathurin
(Matt Kryger)

Game Rewind: Pacers 119, Nuggets 122

Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Game Recap: Nuggets 122, Pacers 119

Game Recap

Despite holding a 14-point halftime lead, the Indiana Pacers came up short 122-119 against NBA two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

The Pacers (5-6) were able to tie the game with 55 seconds left after point guard Tyrese Haliburton made a shot just inside the 3-point arc. But Jokic answered to give the Nuggets the lead for good on the other end. After an eventful final 30 seconds, the Blue & Gold had the chance to send the game to overtime but a long-range launch by center Myles Turner missed at the buzzer.

“Tyrese had an amazing shot, and if his foot was an inch further back we take the lead and then the whole complexion completely changes,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s a game of inches and millimeters. It can be that close.”

Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin scored 30 points – including 18 in the second quarter – to lead all scorers while Jokic topped the Nuggets (8-3) with 24 points to go along with six assists and four rebounds in just 20 minutes, 42 seconds of play.

The Pacers struggled on offense off the tip, falling behind 10-3 on 1-for-8 shooting while turning the ball over four times by the 8:19-mark.

Out of a timeout,  Haliburton scored his first points of the game on a running layup before he and Mathurin hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 22-17 with 4:51 left in the first frame.

Despite four straight points by Isaiah Jackson to close the opening 12 minutes, the Pacers trailed 35-27 at the end of the first quarter.

In the opening quarter, Jokic scored 10 points to lead all scorers and Michael Porter Jr. had seven points while the team shot 57 percent from the field. 

In the second quarter, Mathurin caught fire, scoring 11 points – on three made 3-pointers – in a 15-2 run as the Pacers took a 42-37 lead with 8:44 left in the half.

With 6:40 left in the second quarter, Jokic picked up his fourth foul of the game and Nuggets head coach Mike Malone was issued a technical foul.

Indiana didn’t let up before the buzzer, and Haliburton put an exclamation point on the game with a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left, as the Pacers led 70-56.

Outside of Mathurin's 23 points, Jackson and Haliburton each had 13 points for the Pacers at halftime, which shot 52 percent overall (9-for-21 3-point). Aaron Gordon led the Nuggets with 11 points and Jokic had 10 – not scoring in the second frame.

The teams battled back-and-forth in the third quarter, but the Nuggets were able to cut it to 91-82 following an 8-2 run on two made 3-pointers by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with 3:47 on the clock.

Five straight points by the Nuggets' Bones Hyland off the bench, including a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left, made it 95-89 Pacers going into the final frame.

The Nuggets took advantage of eight Pacers fouls by making all 11 of their free throw attempts in the third quarter.

Carlisle said the free throws in the third quarter made a big difference down the stretch.

“They just got the bonus early, marched to the line a bunch of times and were able to crawl back into it,” Carlisle said.

An alley-oop dunk from T.J. McConnell to Jackson and an and-one conversion and a 3-pointer by Mathurin extended the Pacers’ lead to 103-96 with 9:08 left in the game.

Then, Jokic came back off the bench.

With the MVP back on the floor, Denver went on a 10-2 run, behind seven points by Jokic, to take a 108-105 lead with 6:37 remaining.

Tied at 117, Jokic hit a jumper at the top of the key to put the visitors ahead by two. Carlisle was then given a technical foul which led to a pair of free throws made by Jamal Murray to make the difference 122-117 with 22 seconds left.

Six players scored in double figures for the Nuggets. After Jokic’s 24 points, Gordon and Caldwell-Pope each had 18 points and Porter scored 17. Overall, the Nuggets shot 48.9 percent (12 of 28 3-point) while making 24 of 26 free throws.

Mathurin made 10 of 17 shots (6-for-9 3-point) and the team shot 46 percent overall. Haliburton recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 21 points and 11 assists, Turner had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Jackson finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Going into the game, the Pacers were second in the league in fast break points per game at 18.7 per game and the Nuggets were tied for third-most at 18.1 per game. At the night’s end, the Nuggets had 18 points on the break to the Pacers’ 12.

Both teams were also among the bottom of the league in turnovers and the stats showed, as the Pacers finished with 18 and the Nuggets had 20 giveaways.

Inside the Numbers

Jokic has recorded 79 regular season triple-doubles in his career. There are just two teams that he hasn’t accomplished the feat against: the Pacers and Washington Wizards. He has played against the Pacers 13 times now.

Against the Nuggets, Haliburton recorded his seventh double-double of the season. All of those double-doubles have been off points and assists. He leads the league in those double-double combinations and is tied for third in all double-doubles following Wednesday’s game. Jokic is tied for the league lead with eight double-doubles.

Mathurin has now scored 30 points twice this season. His career-high of 32 points was scored on Oct. 29 at Brooklyn.

The 43 points scored in the second quarter are the second-most in any quarter by the Pacers this season. Against the San Antonio Spurs, the team scored 49 points in the fourth quarter.

Jackson recorded his second double-double of the season and fifth of his career and Turner notched his third double-double of the season in six games played.

Postgame Media Availability: Nov. 9, 2022

You Can Quote Me On That

“The one thing that I'm so impressed with (Mathurin) is he is just undaunted. He just continues to play his game and doesn't get down – continues to have a strong belief in his abilities. And he's an attacker, he's a rare young player that's just unfazed.” – Carlisle on Mathurin’s performance

“We’ve got to close games better, and that's on me. It starts with me as a point guard. Down the stretch, we just gotta get better shots.” – Tyrese Haliburton on coming up short in the final quarter.”

“I just feel like they asserted themselves a lot more in that third quarter. You gotta give credit where credit's due to their second unit. I think they came in and made a difference for them. And you know, it's an unfortunate turn of events. We feel like we were in a position to win that game.” - Turner on the Nuggets without Jokic

“I wanted to bounce back. I wanted to just play really hard and try to get a win.” - Mathurin on scoring 30 points after coming off a career-low eight-point game

“We played with a lot of energy. I feel like that’s my role on the team ... just to bring energy when I come in, be everywhere on the floor whether it’s on the offensive or defensive end. We did that tonight just as a whole group and I feel like I stepped up too.” – Jackson on his big night off the bench

Stat of the Night 

Mathurin scored 23 points in the first half against the Nuggets. He's the first Pacers rookie to score 20 pts and make five 3-pointers in a half over the last 25 seasons. In the first half, Mathurin outscored the entire Nuggets bench.

Up Next

The Pacers wrap up a four-game homestand against Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>