The Pacers (18-9) got some much-needed revenge tonight against the Charlotte Hornets (12-17) after dropping their first meeting against them on November 5 on the road in overtime. Indiana overcame a tough third quarter to eventually cruise to an 107-85 win over the Hornets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana has now won three straight, and its fourth in five games.
Aaron Holiday scored a game-high 23 points off the bench on 6-of-10 shooting, while four other Pacers players finished in double figures. Both Myles Turner (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Domantas Sabonis (12 points, 12 rebounds) finished with a double-double. T.J. McConnell added 12, and fell just two assists shy of his first double-double of the season.
After Indiana posted an abysmal 13-point third quarter performance on 6-of-25 shooting, Aaron Holiday recharged the Pacers offense in the early stages of the fourth. His bounce-pass to a cutting Domantas Sabonis for a crowd-stirring slam with 8:48 to play began a 9-3 run that changed the momentum of the game.
With 4:55 remaining, his step-back three would then take the final breeze out of the Hornets’ sails. The man dubbed “the fourth Holiday” had 12 in the fourth quarter alone.
“[It’s] just slowing down out there,” he said of his improved performances. “Not trying to, I guess, play at one speed, change my pace. And my teammates are doing a good job of finding me in good positions to where I can succeed. So, a lot of it is due to them.”
After starting the game 3-of-9 from the field, Indiana connected on nine of their last 11 shots of the first quarter, including a stretch of three consecutive 3-pointers, to take a 33-20 lead into the second. They led by as many as 16 in the frame. Additionally, the tenacious Pacers defense limited Charlotte to just eight field goals on 25 first-quarter shots.
After falling into an early 5-0 hole, the Pacers jumped out in front behind an 8-1 run via a balanced scoring effort. A pair of Jeremy Lamb free throws at the 8:07 mark in the first grabbed an 8-6 lead for the Blue & Gold.
After a Devonte’ Graham baseline 3-pointer put the Hornets ahead 11-10, Indiana responded with eight unanswered points to snag an 18-11 before Charlotte head coach James Borrego called a timeout with 4:39 left in the first frame. During the run, Indiana found most of its success in the paint, as Sabonis, Turner, and Warren found space for easy layups.
Despite the timeout halting play, the stifling Indiana defense continued to keep Charlotte off the score sheet. Indiana held Charlotte scoreless for a 4:00 span in the latter stages of the frame.
Meanwhile, the Blue & Gold began to heat up on the offensive side. Three consecutive 3-pointers from Myles Turner and the Holiday brothers stretched Indiana’s lead to 29-13 with 1:46 left to play in the period. Indiana finished managed to hold a double digit lead for the remainder of the quarter, and entered the second with a 33-20 advantage.
In another balanced scoring effort, Indiana managed to keep a double-digit lead all the way until halftime. Aaron Holiday had a team-high 11 first-half points off the bench, while four of five starters also tallied seven points or more. Five of Malcolm Brogdon’s nine first-half points came in the final minute to push Indiana’s lead to 59-44 before the break.
Aaron Holiday scored eight of the Pacers’ first 10 points of the second, including a nifty floater from the paint, to earn a 43-26 lead with 7:50 left to play in the half.
After Lamb’s layup stretched Indiana’s lead to 48-30 with 5:00 left in the half, the Hornets rattled off eight unanswered points to get back to within 10 with 3:40 to go. However, just 10 seconds later, Sabonis ended the spree with a driving finger roll layup on the left side to keep Indiana’s margin in double digits.
The Blue & Gold would keep the double figure advantage as time expired thanks to Malcolm Brogdon’s. With 49.1 seconds remaining, Brogdon connected on a 19-foot jumper to extend Indiana’s lead to 56-43. On the next Indiana possession, he would add a 3-pointer that closed out the scoring in the quarter.
In the early moments of the third, Indiana appeared primed to put the game away early.
Coming out of the break, the Pacers scored seven consecutive points in less than 1:30 to grab a 63-44 lead at the. The run was highlighted by an all-frontcourt alley-oop, as Sabonis lobbed a pass to Turner for the easy slam over former Indiana Hoosier Cody Zeller.
“That was random,” Turner joked to describe the lob. “Domas [Sabonis] has good vision. It was the perfect spot for it. I knew it was coming, so it was a good play on his part.”
But then the team went cold from the floor. For the rest of the period, the Blue & Gold shot an embarrassing 4-of-21 (19.0 percent) from the floor, and had a scoreless streak of 5:39.
Luckily, the defense stepped up in the offense’s absence. Through the first 7:25 of the third, the Blue & Gold limited Charlotte to just 10 points before Terry Rozier’s acrobatic reverse layup cut Indiana’s lead to 68-55 with 4:35 left in the third.
After the layup, Malik Monk would bring the Hornets back to within single digits. Monk scored the game’s next six points, including his pull-up jumper from the left elbow that trimmed Indiana’s lead to 68-61 with 2:07 remaining.
Charlotte would trim Indiana’s lead to as little as four in the period. But in common fashion, T.J. McConnell would score a late fadeaway jumper with 18.8 seconds remaining to push the Pacers lead to a more comfortable six-point lead (72-66) heading into the final frame.
“They did the same thing the last time we played them,” Justin Holiday said of Charlotte charging back in the third. “[They] tried to change the game, tried to change the speed of the game. Throwing different looks out of zones. They didn’t trap as much as they did last time. But then they got a little spark offensively.”
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Pacers gave themselves some breathing room. Five straight points, including Doug McDermott’s 3-pointer from the top of the key pushed the Pacers lead back to double digits, 77-66, just 58 seconds into the frame.
At the 8:48 mark in the fourth Aaron Holiday provided the Pacers with the spark needed to close out strong. With Holiday controlling the ball on the right wing, Sabonis wrapped around a screen and broke open. Holiday dished a bounce pass to the center of the paint. Sabonis snagged the pass and finished with a triumphant two-handed slam that brought life into the crowd. The dunk pushed the Blue & Gold in front 83-70.
“It was just an open play,” Holiday described. “He cut, luckily I saw him and he was open and dunked it. It was a nice play.”
The play ignited a 7-3 run over the next 3:20 of the quarter that essentially put the game out of reach.
With the Pacers ahead 90-75, Aaron Holiday then drilled his step-back three over his defender with 4:55 left to play that left the Hornets lifeless.
The Blue & Gold then outscored the Hornets 17-10 for the remainder of the frame to easily cruise to the victory.
Inside the Numbers
Charlotte’s 85 points matched the fewest Indiana has allowed in a game while the Hornets’ 30.8 shooting percentage was the lowest output allowed by the Pacers this season
Indiana surrendered just nine points off nine turnovers for the entire game
Domantas Sabonis has recorded a double-double in 11 straight games. He has 22 for the season
Aaron Holiday finished in double figures for the third-straight game, and his fourth in his last five
You Can Quote Me On That
“We don’t want to just run down and jack up quick shots. Our philosophy is to play early and to play late. And what we mean by that is, if we can’t get a rim attempt or an open shot early, then make the defense defend. Shot selection is important for us.” – Head coach Nate McMillan on the team’s decision making
“Once they cut the lead down, we just had to calm down, get back to the basketball we were playing before and just push the pace and play defense.” – Aaron Holiday on the Pacers’ mindset after Charlotte cut down the lead
“We’re starting to build some really good chemistry and it’s just a matter of getting to play together. We’ve got guys healthy and we’re just going to keep trending in the right direction.” – Myles Turner on the Pacers starters beginning to gel
Stat of the Night
After getting outscored 22-13 in the third quarter, the Pacers bounced back to outscore the Hornets 35-19 in the fourth.
- The Pacers have now won at least three games in a row for the fourth occasion this season, improving their record to 18-9 overall and 11-3 at home.
- Indiana’s win snapped Charlotte’s three-game winning streak
- Indiana’s bench combined to score 55 points, including 31 of the team’s 35 points in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to host LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »
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