Pacers at Hornets

Game Preview: Pacers at Hornets

Friday, November 19, 2021 at 7:00 PM ET at Spectrum Center

Pacers.com Game Preview presented by DraftKings

Matchup

Looking for a spark, the Pacers (6-10) are capping off their three-game road trip with a visit to Charlotte to take on the Hornets (9-7) for the second time this season. Indiana opened its season against Charlotte, dropping the contest by a single point.

Charlotte has had a roller coaster start to its season this year. The squad won five of its first seven before losing five straight to start off November. However, they have bounced back and have won four straight entering this contest. Their most recent win was an impressive 97-87 victory over the 10-win Washington Wizards.

The Hornets have a balanced lineup that gives their opponents fits at times. Right now, they are led by their forwards, Miles Bridges and Gordon Hayward. Bridges, the fourth-year player known for creating highlight-reel slams, leads the team in scoring (21.3 points per game) and is second in rebounding behind Mason Plumlee (7.5). Hayward, the 11-year veteran, is averaging 17.6 points per game and is shooting 42.7 percent from deep.

There is the looming threat of the 2020-21 NBA Rookie of the Year, LaMelo Ball, as well. Ball (18.8 points, 7.5 assists per game) is posting stats above his rookie year in almost every offensive category. The Pacers' backcourt certainly will have its hands full during this game.

However, defense has not been the problem for Indiana as of late. The squad has held five of its past eight opponents to 100 points or fewer, which is pretty solid for this NBA era. The issues have risen on the offensive end. At times, the Blue & Gold appear to struggle with turnovers and making shots during crucial moments. They have failed to reach 90 points in consecutive contests and surrendered 18 turnovers to the Pistons Wednesday night. Overall, the Blue & Gold rank 24th in the NBA in turnovers per game (15.8).

With head coach Rick Carlisle's emphasis on playing with aggression and energy from the tip, look for the Pacers' starters to come out trying to make a statement in the early moments of the game. Indiana's leaders must light the fire needed to cap off this road trip with a win.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Caris LeVert, SF - Kelan Martin, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Hornets: PG - LaMelo Ball, SG - Terry Rozier, SF - Gordon Hayward, PF - Miles Bridges, C - Mason Plumlee

Injury Report

Pacers: Chris Duarte - questionable (sore right shoulder), Isaiah Jackson - out (G League assignment), T.J. Warren – out (left foot stress fracture)

Hornets: James Bouknight - out (G League assignment), Kai Jones - out (G League assignment), JT Thor - out (G League assignment), P.J.. Washington - out (left elbow hyperextension)

Last Meeting

Oct. 20, 2021: Everything was going right for the Pacers in their opening game this season. The squad had built up a 23-point lead in the first half. However, disaster struck in the third quarter as the Hornets rallied back and built a 10-point lead by midway through the fourth. Indiana responded with a 14-3 run. But in the end, Charlotte grabbed the win, 123-122 at Spectrum Center. It was the first of back-to-back one-point losses for the Blue & Gold to start the season.

Domantas Sabonis recorded 33 points and 15 rebounds, while Malcolm Brogdon added 28 and 11 assists. But nobody was more impressive than Chris Duarte, who dropped 27 points in his NBA debut. LaMelo Ball had 31 to lead the Hornets.

The Blue & Gold were firing on all cylinders in the first half, scoring 75 points to take a 16-point lead into halftime. Then, they pushed their lead to 23 early in the third quarter after buckets from Duarte, Myles Turner, and Brogdon. However, the wheels began to fall off.

Ball scored 12 points of a 28-2 run as Charlotte rallied back to take a lead. T.J. McConnell's layup with 2:30 left in the quarter broke a six-minute scoreless streak for Indiana. Charlotte had scored 24 unanswered during that timeframe. Justin Holiday's jumper briefly tied the game at 88, but the Hornets finished the frame with four more to take a miraculous lead into the fourth.

Charlotte pushed its lead to 10 on Ish Smith's jumper with 7:09 to play before Indiana began climbing back. The Pacers had a one-point lead after Torrey Craig dropped in two free throws with 12.4 seconds left. On the next Hornets possession, a loose-ball scramble led to a foul being called on Craig. P.J. Washington sank both free throws and Indiana could not answer back.

Noteworthy

  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward is an Indianapolis native and played his college basketball at Butler University.
  • Jeremy Lamb was a member of the Hornets for four seasons from 2015-19.
  • Indiana leads the all-time regular-season series, 46-38, but is just 16-25 on the road against Charlotte.

Tickets

The Pacers will return from a three-game road trip to host the New Orleans Pelicans at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »

Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »

TV: Bally Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)





by Brendan Rourke
Pacers.com Contributor

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