Pacers vs Jazz

Pacers Discuss What Stephenson and Sykes Bring to the Team

Jan. 7, 2022 - Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, Keifer Sykes, Lance Stephenson, Myles Turner and Chris Duarte speak with the media about what Stephenson and Sykes bring to the team. Sykes discusses what it means to him to have his contract guaranteed for the remainder of the season and Stephenson talks about what it means to be back home.

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Pacers Discuss What Stephenson and Sykes Bring to the Team

Jan. 7, 2022 - Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, Keifer Sykes, Lance Stephenson, Myles Turner and Chris Duarte speak with the media about what Stephenson and Sykes bring to the team. Sykes discusses what it means to him to have his contract guaranteed for the remainder of the season and Stephenson talks about what it means to be back home.
Jan 7, 2022  |  04:08

Game Preview: Pacers vs Jazz

Saturday, January 8, 2022 at 7:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Pacers.com Game Preview presented by DraftKings

Matchup

After Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn spoiled Lance Stephenson's memorable return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the Pacers (14-25) are set to host a red-hot Utah Jazz (28-11) team Saturday night. Utah has dropped just four games out of its last 20 contests dating back to Nov. 27 of last year. However, they will arrive in Indianapolis on the second night of a back-to-back after falling in Toronto on Friday.

As odd as it seems, the Pacers could have an edge when it comes to player availability as well. After spending time sidelined due to the league's health and safety protocols, Malcolm Brogdon and Chris Duarte could be in line for making a return Saturday night. Through 39 games, Brogdon leads the team in scoring (19.0 points) and assists (6.1) per game. Duarte, the talented rookie, is averaging 13.2 points per game and provides solid two-way play in the backcourt.

Meanwhile, Utah is seeing a spike in players appearing on the injury report. Perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert (15.5 points, 15.1 rebounds, 2.3 blocks per game) and sharpshooter Joe Ingles will be out Saturday due to health and safety protocols. Before the announcement, fans were excited to see Gobert and Myles Turner face off again after the duo went toe-to-toe in a physical matchup on Nov. 11. The Jazz also have a bevy of starters and rotational players — including Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic — carrying nagging injuries. The bumps and bruises have left their availability in question for the time being.

Despite Indiana carrying a season-long six-game losing streak, there have been some positives regarding individual performances. Keifer Sykes has averaged 20 points per game over his last two outings. Domantas Sabonis will be coming off a 32-point, 12-rebound, and 10-assist triple-double performance against the Nets. Then, there is Stephenson. The fan-favorite finished his return to Indianapolis with 30 points — including a Pacers NBA franchise record 20 in the first quarter — and five assists off the bench. His first-quarter performance also set an NBA record for points scored in the first quarter by a player coming off the bench. Look for the trio to have another big night at home as the Jazz battle fatigue and injuries.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Keifer Sykes, SG - Duane Washington Jr., SF - Justin Holiday, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Jazz: PG - Mike Conley, SG - Donovan Mitchell, SF - Bojan Bogdanovic, PF - Eric Paschall, C - Hassan Whiteside

Injury Report

Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon - questionable (return to play reconditioning), Chris Duarte - questionable (return to play reconditioning), Jeremy Lamb - questionable (return to play reconditioning), Justin Anderson - out (health and safety protocols),Goga Bitadze - out (health and safety protocols), Torrey Craig - out (health and safety protocols), Isaiah Jackson - out (health and safety protocols), Caris LeVert - out (health and safety protocols), T.J. McConnell - out (sore right wrist), T.J. Warren – out (health and safety protocols)

Jazz: Bojan Bogdanovic – probable (left middle finger sprain), Donovan Mitchell – probable (lower back strain), Royce O' Neale – questionable (right patellar tendonitis), Rudy Gay – questionable (sore right heel), Rudy Gobert – out (health and safety protocols), Malik Fitts - out (right wrist injury), Joe Ingles – out (health and safety protocols)

Last Meeting

Nov. 21, 2021: 24 hours after leaving the high altitudes of Denver, the Pacers took on the Jazz in the final game of an early Western Conference road trip. Malcolm Brogdon dropped 30, T.J McConnell added 21, and the Blue & Gold came out on the other side with a gutsy 111-100 victory.

In total, five Pacers finished in double figures. Indiana led after every quarter and outrebounded the Jazz, 53-37. They battled through a wild fourth quarter that featured four ejections, including Gobert and Myles Turner. The spat ignited after Turner blocked Gobert's layup attempt. The squad fended off a 26-point performance from Donovan Mitchell.

Indiana flipped a late first-quarter deficit with a run of 10 unanswered points from its reserves. The squad held a 32-30 advantage after one. Midway through the second period, Utah used a 7-0 spree to jump ahead 42-38. However, the Blue & Gold responded with an 11-2 run — six from Brogdon — to lead for the remainder of the half. The Pacers tallied the final six points of the second quarter to take a 60-51 into halftime.

Turner's defensive prowess helped keep an Indiana lead in the third. The big man gave Gobert fits throughout the second half. Gobert grew frustrated, picking up a technical foul early in the third. When Turner rested, the Jazz closed a 72-62 gap to three behind a 10-0 run. However, Turner checked back in, and the Pacers grew the lead to 85-77 before the fourth quarter.

With Indiana leading 102-92 and 4:07 remaining, Turner stifled another Gobert layup attempt, and Gobert fell to the floor. Frustrated, Gobert pulled Turner to the ground by his shorts, inciting a scrum. Both players were ejected along with Mitchell and Joe Ingles; the latter duo attempted to escalate the situation. Later, Chris Duarte nailed the clutch triple with 2:25 left to seal the deal.

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers are 15-9 in all-time regular-season home matchups against the Jazz.
  • Jazz guard Mike Conley and Pacers guard Duane Washington Jr. both played college basketball at Ohio State.
  • Jazz forward Elijah Hughes and Pacers forward Oshae Brissett were teammates at Syracuse.

Tickets

The Pacers welcome the Utah Jazz on Saturday, Jan. 8 at 7:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. 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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