GAME RECAP: Pacers 121, Jazz 102

A balanced attack from the Pacers saw Domantas Sabonis, T.J. Warren, and Malcolm Brogdon score over 20 points as Indiana slides past the Jazz 121-102.

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GAME RECAP: Pacers 121, Jazz 102

A balanced attack from the Pacers saw Domantas Sabonis, T.J. Warren, and Malcolm Brogdon score over 20 points as Indiana slides past the Jazz 121-102.
Nov 27, 2019  |  00:01

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Nov. 27, 2019

November 27, 2019 - Pacers players T.J. Warren, Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, and Myles Turner talk about their impressive home victory over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday evening.
Nov 27, 2019  |  01:41

Postgame: McMillan Press Conference - Nov. 27, 2019

November 27, 2019 - Coach Nate McMillan comments on the 121-102 victory against the Utah Jazz Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nov 27, 2019  |  04:10

Defense Leads to Lamb Three

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Nov 27, 2019  |  00:16

Turner Rejects Mitchell

Nov. 27, 2019 - Myles Turner chases down Donovan Mitchell for the block.
Nov 27, 2019  |  00:20

Shapeshifting Pacers Posing Problems

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Say you're a basketball coach. Say your team is about to play the Pacers. Say you have to come up with a game plan.

Where do you start?

Take away the 3-point shot? It's not their emphasis anyway. Keep them off the foul line? They do a good job of that on their own most nights. Play fast? Maybe, but they're willing and able. Play slow? They get criticized for their lack of pace sometimes. Key on a particular player? They have plenty of scoring threats, even one who hasn't been scoring much lately.

So, where do you start?

Utah certainly had no answers in the Pacers' 121-102 victory on Wednesday. The Jazz entered the game with an 11-6 record — which is why this was by far the Pacers' classiest win of the season — and left Bankers Life Fieldhouse expressing nothing but respect.

"I think they do a great job," Jazz center Rudy Gobert said. "They have a tough mindset. They really play as a team and they really play tough. Nobody talks about them because they're not a big market team, but everybody in the league knows they are a very good team."

They're becoming one, at least. The Pacers are 11-6, have won 11 of 14 games since their 0-3 start and are 3-1 with their desired starting lineup in the absence of Victor Oladipo. The only loss came in the season-opener with Detroit when they trotted out just one returning starter from last season, and therefore merits at least some forgiveness.

The Pacers' strength is in numbers, which makes it exceptionally difficult to strategize against them. Each of the starters has scored at least 25 points in a game so far, and six of the reserves have scored in double figures. Make that seven. Naz Mitrou-Long did it after being recalled from the G League Fort Wayne Mad Ants, to whom he has returned.

"It's probably tough," said Jeremy Lamb, the fill-in starter for Oladipo who finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. "We have a lot of weapons. We have spot-up shooters, we have people who can come off pin-downs, we have people who can play in the pick-and-roll, we have post men who can shoot or put you on the block.

"We've got a lot of different looks. We can play fast, we can play slow. We're definitely a tough team to cover."

That's because they're a balanced, shapeshifting team that changes from game to game. Consider that Lamb, as good as he was, didn't lead in any statistical category and was just the fourth-leading scorer. T.J. Warren and Domantas Sabonis each scored 23 and Malcolm Brogdon had 22. Myles Turner scored just eight while hitting 3-of-6 shots, providing a subplot, but blocked three shots. The starters combined to hit 54 percent of their field goal attempts and combined to commit just six turnovers.

It was essentially a template for how coach Nate McMillan wants his team to play.

"We try to teach basic basketball; playing the game together," he said. "When you have a number of guys who can score, you have to get that team to sacrifice. They're going to be some nights you don't get touches, you don't get shots. Because if you're playing the game together and you're giving the ball up to the open man, that might not be you."

T.J. Warren

Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Lately, that hasn't been Turner. He had scored just seven points on 3-of-5 shooting against Memphis on Monday and got off just one more shot attempt in this one. The Pacers' offense usually begins with Brogdon dribbling off a Sabonis screen, and one of them usually winds up with a shot.

Turner, while dominant defensively, has been nearly invisible on offense. McMillan made it a point to run a play for him on the opening possession of the second half which resulted in Turner hitting a 3-pointer from the left wing. He hit 2-of-3 for the game and has hit 17-of-37 for the season, a team-best 46 percent.

"I've got to get myself going," he said. "Just find a way. The offense we have, guys have to sacrifice some shots. I'm sacrificing a little bit. It's time for me to find my way back in a little bit."

McMillan had a simple explanation and doesn't expect this to be a permanent condition for Turner.

"The defense was fronting him," McMillan said. "You can't force that. We're going to take what the defense is giving us. They did a good job of defending that, we took advantage somewhere else with our matchups. That's our game plan, every night."

Utah's best player Wednesday was the Pacers' leading scorer last season. Bojan Bogdanovic scored a game-high 30 points while hitting 4-of-7 3-pointers in a solid all-around performance that was blemished only by his six turnovers.

He dramatically elevated his career the past two seasons with the Pacers, becoming a more confident and complete player — so much so that the Jazz signed him to a four-year, $73 million contract over the summer. It's almost as if the Pacers took him in, nurtured him, and then watched him take the money and run.

There were no hard feelings in The Fieldhouse, though. Pacers coach Nate McMillan had nothing but praise for Bogdanovic before the game, calling him a "warrior." The Pacers' fans gave him a loud ovation when the Jazz starting lineup was introduced, and Bogdanovic later jogged down to the Pacers bench before the opening tip-off to greet the coaches.

"I had two great years here and was around some great people," Bogdanovic said. "I was really happy to see all of them.

"I have a lot of respect for Nate and D.B. (assistant coach Dan Burke) and all of them. They gave me a chance to prove myself and show people around the league who I am and how good I can be. So, I'm really thankful to them."

Sabonis said Bogdanovic was shouting instructions to his Jazz teammates on the Pacers' play calls he recognized. It obviously wasn't enough to slow the Pacers' offense much.

"But it was fun," Sabonis said. "Happy for him. Great guy."

Less fun for Sabonis was the time the public address announcer called out Bogdanovic's name as the shooter when Sabonis went to the foul line in the fourth quarter. It resulted in his only miss of the game in six attempts, although he recovered to hit the second attempt and was laughing about it in the locker room.

Losing Bogdanovic to a higher bid is much easier for the Pacers to accept since they were able to replace him with Warren at the three position. Warren can relate to Turner's recent lack of scoring opportunities, having taken just four shots in last Saturday's win over Orlando, but has mostly been just another headache for opposing coaches. He had 26 points on Monday before getting 23 against the Jazz.

Warren missed his first four shots and still hadn't scored midway through the second quarter, but T.J. McConnell got him going. McConnell, who scored 12 points off the bench, picked off a steal near midcourt, but instead of racing in for an uncontested layup handed off to Warren for a dunk instead.

The ice broken, Warren hit a 3-pointer from the right corner on the next possession off another steal and assist from McConnell, and never looked back. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter when the Pacers nailed down the victory.

It was a notable one, seemingly, but McMillan and most of the players tried to take it in stride, barely hinting that it meant more than the ones over Memphis and Orlando. Sabonis let down his guard a little, but still didn't break from the pack.

"This was a big one," he said. "Everyone said we haven't faced many top teams. I think this was a top team. We just came out and played our game."

Which was more than enough.


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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