Buddy Hield
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Rewind: Pacers 109, Nuggets 117

Sunday, Jan. 14 at 3:30 PM ET at Ball Arena

Game Recap

The Indiana Pacers kept the reigning NBA Champions within reach in the first matchup between the two teams this season, but ultimately fell to the Denver Nuggets Sunday afternoon.

It was also not until the fourth quarter that the Nuggets truly secured their win, as six lead changes and 10 tied scores took place within the first three frames. While Denver shot 70.6 percent (12-of-17) in the final quarter, Indiana’s 42.1 percent (8-of-19) shooting ultimately contributed to the Blue and Gold loss.

Indiana had seven players end the night in double-figures. After being presented with his NBA Championship ring prior to the game, Bruce Brown went on to record his first double-double of the season with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds. He also contributed six assists and three steals.

Buddy Hield followed behind with 16 points on a 6-of-13 shooting clip, while Myles Turner, Andrew Nembhard, Bennedict Mathurin, and Isaiah Jackson tallied 12 points apiece. Obi Toppin also added 11 points on a 4-of-5 shooting clip, which includes three 3-pointers on three attempts.

After the Nuggets won the tip, Indiana and Denver would go basket-for-basket for each of their first two possessions. A layup resulting from a no look pass from Andrew Nembhard to Buddy Hield tied the matchup, 4-4. Two minutes later, Hield earned another layup to give him his fourth point of the game on a 2-of-2 shooting clip.

Both teams opened the matchup shooting 3-of-4 from the floor, but Denver soon pulled ahead to a five-point lead when two free throws from Aaron Gordon following a dunk from Nikola Jokic put them ahead, 13-8. Indiana was held scoreless for a minute and a half, but the scoring drought was soon ended by a jumper from Jalen Smith that cut the deficit to 13-10.

A minute later, Smith would tie the game, 14-14, after retrieving the rebound of a missed Turner layup and completing a putback dunk all in one motion.

As the lead had been no more than six points at any time, Indiana earned the first significant scoring run of the game as they closed out the quarter on a 10-2 scoring run. This scoring run was jumpstarted by Toppin’s first of two 3-pointers of the quarter at the 3:16 minute mark. Indiana took advantage of Denver’s next two failed possessions and eventually earned their first lead of the game, 28-26, after Toppin made a corner 3-pointer assisted by Jackson from the top of the key.

Two Denver free throws tied up the match at the conclusion of the first frame, 28-28.

Smith, Brown and Toppin each contributed six points in the quarter for the visitors as the Pacers opened the matchup shooting 53.8 percent (14-of-26) from the floor.

Indiana extended its scoring run to 14-6 to start off the second frame. T.J. McConnell kicked off the second quarter with a quick layup, and a free throw from Brown put Indiana up three points, 31-28. However, Indiana would only make one of seven shot attempts following the short offensive stint, allowing Denver to tie the game, 35-35, at the 7:50 minute mark.

The reigning champs soon picked up their offensive pace as they embarked on a 21-8 scoring run from the 5:03 minute mark to the 1:22 minute mark. A jumper from Jamal Murray capped off the scoring stretch as they took their largest lead of the game of nine points, 59-50. Michael Porter Jr. scored three of Denver’s five second quarter 3-pointers within the frame as he contributed nine points.

After trailing by nine points, Indiana sped ahead to work to cut the deficit by the end of the half. A Brown 3-pointer and a dunk from Jackson earned Indiana five unanswered points as Indiana trailed by four points. A fastbreak layup from Brown at the buzzer brought Indiana within three-points as the half ended, 60-57.

Turner and Brown shined in the third quarter to keep Indiana within distance of the lead as they both notched eight points, with Turner scoring his eight points on a 3-of-3 shooting clip.

Indiana struggled from the charity stripe, knocking down just seven of 13 free-throw attempts within the first half.

The Blue and Gold hit the ground running to open the second half as they went 4-of-5 from the floor in the first two minutes of play. A missed Hield 3-pointer was rebounded by Indiana and batted out to Nembhard, who completed a jumper from the lane which allowed the Blue and Gold to finally surge ahead to a 63-62 lead.

Hield caught fire to start the third frame as he scored a quick 10 points on a 4-of-6 shooting clip. A pair of 3-pointers from the Indiana guard gave the Blue and Gold a four-point lead, it’s largest of the afternoon, 69-65.

Denver responded with a bucket of its own to put them within two-points, but both teams went scoreless for the next minute and a half. Indiana’s offense remained halted, giving the Nuggets the opportunity to change the possession of the lead for the sixth time of the night. In the midst of what would become a 20-8 scoring run, a Denver 3-pointer put the Nuggets ahead, 74-71, at the 6:02 minute mark.

The Nuggets shot 63.2 percent (12-of-19) from the floor, led by Jokic’s 10 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting clip, to propel themselves to as much as an eight-point lead on one occasion.

The fourth quarter ended with Denver leading, 89-84.

Indiana went cold to open the final frame, making zero of their first three shot attempts, while Denver completed their first three of four attempts. The Nuggets once again led by nine points at the nine-minute mark, 95-86.

Mathurin got Indiana back into the matchup as he scored all of Indiana’s sole seven points of the first three and a half minutes of play, five of which were scored on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting clip from the charity stripe. Mathurin’s offensive takeover got Indiana back within four points of the lead as the Pacers trailed, 95-91, at the 8:35 minute mark.

Indiana continued to run cold, missing three of their next three shot attempts. After relying on Mathurin’s seven points for over five minutes of the final frame, Brown put himself in the fourth quarter scoring column to place Indiana behind by six points, 99-93, at the 6:49 minute mark.

While the Pacers struggled to convert each possession, Denver made nine of their 14 shot attempts to put themselves ahead by their largest lead of the night, 109-97, with over three minutes remaining.

Nembhard earned Indiana two straight buckets coming out of an Indiana timeout that allowed the Pacers to cut the deficit to eight points at the 2:31 minute mark. However, Indiana struggled to get any closer to taking over the lead for the remainder of the matchup.

Four Nuggets starters ended the night with at least 20 points to propel Denver to the win. Jokic was one assist away from recording a triple-double as he notched 25 points on a 12-of-13 shooting clip to go along with 12 rebounds and nine assists. Porter Jr. recorded 25 points and eight rebounds for the Nuggets, with 14 of his points attributed from seven made 3-pointers. Murray also added 25 points and eight assists, while Gordon contributed 20 points.

Inside the Numbers

Bruce Brown led the seven Indiana double-figure scorers with his first double-double of the season of 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Led by Isaiah Jackson and Bennedict Mathurin’s 12 points apiece, the Indiana bench outscored the Denver bench, 43-11.

Indiana recorded 20 second-chance points off of its 14 offensive rebounds.

For the first time this season, Indiana failed to score at least 30 points in any of the four quarters. However, Indiana also held Denver to less than 30 points in the first, third, and fourth quarters.

The Pacers made just eight of their 29 3-point attempts (27.6 percent).

The Nuggets recorded a season-high 22 total turnovers, while Indiana recorded only 13 total turnovers.

While Denver shot a season-high 64.8 percent (46-of-71) from the field, Indiana shot 46.7 percent (43-of-92).

Indiana recorded a season-low one block, which was contributed by Myles Turner.

Both Indiana and Denver made 15 free-throws, with the Pacers attempting 22 and Denver attempting 23 from the charity stripe.

Denver outrebounded Indiana, 40-37.

Indiana Pacers Postgame Media Availability (at Denver Nuggets) | January 14, 2024

You Can Quote Me On That

“I was very happy for him. I think all of our people in our party — our players, our staff — are really happy for him. The moment where you get your championship ring is a once in a lifetime type thing in most cases. The love he was getting from their players and their fans was very, very special. And to be able to jump into the game and have the kind of game that he had was really great too.” – Head Coach Rick Carlisle on Brown

“Everyone was just super unselfish like they are still today, shared the ball. It wasn’t just one person’s night; it was four or five people. Everybody got involved.” – Brown on the team effort

“I thought we fought hard in this game. There were some frustrating parts of it. A lot of this came down to Jokic’s greatness and Murray’s greatness, but we hung in and didn’t play our best game and still were hanging in.” – Carlisle on the loss

“It was great. It was more than what I had expected. I didn’t know the crowd was going to cheer like that. I almost started crying.” – Brown on being presented his NBA championship ring

“Intensity wise, I thought the effort was really there. It’s a great team, it’s a tough environment. They were really great in the first six minutes of the game; we weathered that really well. Probably should’ve had a lead at the end of the first [quarter], that was disappointing.” – Carlisle on the loss

“Tough. I knew every play but still they were moving too fast. The air here is still a little crazy, I was tired through three quarters. They know exactly what they’re doing, they knew exactly our plays, where they needed to be. They communicated. Just a great team over there.” – Brown on playing Denver for the first time since leaving the team

Stat of the Night

On the night he was presented his NBA championship ring from last season, Bruce Brown recorded his first double-double of the season of 18 points on 50 percent (8-of-16) shooting and 10 rebounds. Brown also contributed six assists and three steals.

Noteworthy

  • Forward Aaron Nesmith did not play against the Nuggets due to bilateral shin soreness. Buddy Hield earned a spot in the starting lineup in his place.
  • The Pacers were also without guard Tyrese Haliburton for the third straight game as he recovers from a left hamstring strain.
  • Indiana will look to earn its first win over the Nuggets in seven matchups when they face Denver again for the second and final time this season Jan. 23.

Up Next

The Pacers head to Utah to face off against Lauri Markkanen and the Jazz on the second night of a back-to-back on Monday, Jan. 15 at 9:00 PM ET.

Tickets

After a six-game road trip, the Pacers will return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host Nikola Jokic and the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>