Bennedict Mathurin
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Rewind: Pacers 93, Pelicans 113

Monday, Dec. 26 at 8:00 PM ET at Smoothie King Center

Game Recap: Pelicans 113, Pacers 93

Game Recap

The Pacers had two impressive road wins heading into Christmas, but their strong play did not carry over into their first game after the holiday.

Indiana struggled from the field and was outmuscled on the glass on Monday night in New Orleans, as the shorthanded Pelicans took it to Indiana. New Orleans (21-12) built a 23-point lead in the first half and never looked back, cruising to a 113-93 victory over Indiana (17-17).

The Pelicans were without six players on Monday, including All-Star forward Zion Williamson, who was held out for return to competition reconditioning after missing New Orleans' last two games before Christmas while in the NBA's health and safety protocols.

But the shorthanded Pelicans still had plenty of size and pummeled the Pacers on the boards, outrebounding Indiana 54-36 overall and 16-6 on the offensive glass, outscoring the Blue & Gold 26-8 in second chance points.

On the other end, the Pacers endured several prolonged scoring droughts, particularly in a dismal first half, and suffered a rare blowout loss.

The Pacers actually seized control early with a 10-0 run that broke a 6-6 tie and featured an Aaron Nesmith dunk and back-to-back threes by Myles Turner and Andrew Nembhard.

But immediately after that spurt, Indiana went cold, converting just one field goal over the final 6:56 of the first quarter. The Pelicans capitalized with an 18-2 run to close the frame, taking a 24-18 lead into the second quarter. Veterans CJ McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas combined for New Orleans' first 11 points in that run.

Rookie guard Bennedict Mathurin ended Indiana's dry spell with a layup and a three in the first two minutes of the second quarter. That trimmed the deficit to 27-23, but unfortunately Indiana immediately endured another drought.

Willy Hernandez scored seven points during a 16-0 Pelicans run as the Pacers went without a point for another 3:56. That drought ended with a three-point possession, where Tyrese Haliburton converted a free throw after a technical foul and then Isaiah Jackson scored on a layup, but New Orleans continued to add to its lead.

The hosts led by as many as 23 and took a 19-point lead into the intermission, limiting Indiana to a season-low 38 points over the first two quarters.

"A good start for the first four minutes and then really bad last 44 minutes," Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. "Disappointing. But the story of the game was the number of loose balls that they got that we didn't get."

While the Pacers were hoping to start their rally out of halftime, the Pelicans thwarted those plans. Valanciunas scored four quick points, Jaxson Hayes converted a layup, and Naji Marshall knocked down a three as New Orleans opened the third quarter with a 9-2 spurt.

The Pelicans led 74-45 following two free throws by Hayes with 6:53 remaining in the third quarter. The Pacers finally got the ball moving offensively and scored 17 points over the next four-and-a-half minutes, but still trailed by 22.

Indiana went scoreless over the final 2:05, while New Orleans closed out the quarter with Graham and Naji Marshall combining for back-to-back threes -- the latter banking in a one-legged shot at the buzzer -- to give the Pelicans a 90-62 advantage entering the fourth.

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle did not play any of his starters in the final frame, which featured little drama other than rounding out the final box score.

Mathurin led Indiana with 15 points off the bench, going 4-for-11 from the field but 6-for-6 from the free throw line.

Turner led the starters with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, eight rebounds, and two blocks. Buddy Hield added 12 points on 4-of-7 3-point shooting and Nesmith tallied 10 and five rebounds.

Coming off a career-high 43 points in Friday's win in Miami, Haliburton missed his first six shots on Monday and finished with 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting, six assists, and two steals in 31 minutes.

Marshall had a game-high 22 points for New Orleans, going 8-for-14 from the field and 4-for-9 from beyond the arc. Valanciunas added 20 points on 10-of-18 shooting, 12 rebounds, and five assists, while McCollum contributed 19 points, seven boards, and six dimes.

The Pacers will return to Indianapolis to host Atlanta on Tuesday on the second night of a back-to-back. That contest will tip off a four-game homestand that also includes games against the Cavaliers, Clippers, and Raptors.

Inside the Numbers

The Pacers' 38 points in the first half were their fewest in any half this season. Their previous low was 39 points in the second half against Miami on Nov. 4 and their previous low over the first two quarters was 42 against the Heat on Dec. 12.

After going two games without reaching double figures, Mathurin recorded his 29th double-digit scoring performance of his rookie season.

Hield has made at least four 3-pointers in nine of his last 12 games.

Other than Hield, the Pacers struggled from beyond the arc, going just 9-for-35 (25.7 percent) on the night. Those nine 3-pointers matched a season low for Indiana first set in a loss at the Clippers on Nov. 27.

Monday was Indiana's first game where the score was not within single digits at any point in the fourth quarter since a 116-100 loss in Portland on Dec. 4.

The Pacers trailed by as many as 29 points in New Orleans, the second-largest deficit they've faced all season. Their largest deficit was 32 points in a loss at Sacramento on Nov. 30.

Postgame Media Availability: Dec. 26, 2022

You Can Quote Me On That

"They just played harder than us. Simple as that. I think over the course of 82 games you have games where you don't shoot the way you want to, you don't play up to your ability -- that happens to every team. But obviously frustrating -- effort is a big thing you can control. We just didn't have the right energy, the right effort today." -Haliburton on his takeaways from the game

"This is a top team in the West. I don't care if Zion's playing or not. These guys have been beating good teams all year when he's been out. McCollum's a great player and Valanciunas is very underrated." -Carlisle on the Pelicans being shorthanded

"I thought we got stagnant at times and our inability to get stops led to a lot of our issues on offense. Teams are really concentrating on Tyrese, keeping him out of the lane. We didn't have a particularly great shooting night...It was a struggle." -Carlisle on what went wrong offensively

"We were in the right spot early in the game. Had a good lift about us, good bounce about us. But they responded how they're supposed to and we just never responded back." -Haliburton

Stat of the Night

The Pelicans outscored Indiana 26-8 in second chance points and led the category 24-2 before some putbacks by the Pacers' reserves over the final minutes. Monday was the second-largest margin a Pacers opponent has outscored the Blue & Gold in second chance points this season. Brooklyn outscored Indiana 37-17 in a win on Dec. 10.

  • The Pacers and Pelicans have now split their season series for the third straight year. The Pacers beat New Orleans 129-122 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Nov. 7.
  • Nesmith returned to the lineup after missing Friday's game in Miami with a sprained right ankle.
  • In addition to Williamson, the Pelicans were without Dyson Daniels (non-COVID illness), Trey Murphy III (non-COVID illness), Herbert Jones (health and safety protocols), Brandon Ingram (left great toe contusion), and E.J. Liddell (right knee ACL recovery).
  • Pacers second-year forward Terry Taylor rejoined the team Monday after starring for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants at the G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas last week, where he was named to the NBA G League All-Showcase Team. Taylor played the final 6:36 on Monday with the Pacers, scoring four points and collecting two offensive rebounds.
Up Next

The Pacers will be back at Gainbridge Fieldhouse after Christmas to host Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 7:30 PM ET. Find Tickets >>