Pacers vs Hornets

Game Recap: Pacers 144, Hornets 117

Fueled by Doug McDermott's hot start, the Pacers never trail and lead by as many as 39 to earn a date with Washington for the right to face Philadelphia.

Postgame 210518

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Game Recap: Pacers 144, Hornets 117

Fueled by Doug McDermott's hot start, the Pacers never trail and lead by as many as 39 to earn a date with Washington for the right to face Philadelphia.
May 18, 2021  |  00:02

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room – May 18, 2021

May 18, 2021 – Nate Bjorkgren, Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, Doug McDermott, and Oshae Brissett speak with the media following Indiana’s 144-117 win in game one of the play-in tournament against the Charlotte Hornets.
May 18, 2021  |  02:09

Sabonis: 'I try to impact the game in different ways'

Domantas Sabonis speaks after leading the Pacers over the Hornets in the State Farm Play-In Tournament.
May 18, 2021  |  00:03

Domantas Sabonis records near triple-double vs. Hornets

All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis misses his latest triple-double by one assist with 14 points, 21 rebounds and nine dimes to lead the Pacers.
May 18, 2021  |  00:02

Martin Strong Slam

May 18, 2021: Kelan Martin throws down the strong one-handed slam.
May 18, 2021  |  00:09

Defense Leads to Brissett Dunk

May 18, 2021: The Pacers trap the ball and force the turnover, leading to a runout ending in a Oshae Brissett alley-oop from Aaron Holiday.
May 18, 2021  |  00:11

Brissett High Off the Glass

May 18, 2021: Oshae Brissett gets the floater to go high off the window.
May 18, 2021  |  00:08

Sabonis Pumps and Gets the Roll

May 18, 2021: Domantas Sabonis gets his man in the air and drives strong to the rim, where he gets the friendly roll.
May 18, 2021  |  00:11

Sabonis Baseline Pass to Brissett

May 18, 2021: Domantas Sabonis pulls off the perfect baseline bounce pass to Oshae Brissett, who finishes with a reverse layup.
May 18, 2021  |  00:07

Brogdon And-1

May 18, 2021: Malcolm Brogdon cuts in the lane and puts up the tough over-the-shoulder shot through contact.
May 18, 2021  |  00:08

Sumner Beats the Buzzer

May 18, 2021: Edmond Sumner puts up the floater and gets the roll to beat the 1st-quarter buzzer.
May 18, 2021  |  00:12

Brogdon Bounces It to Brissett For the Dunk

May 18, 2021: Malcolm Brogdon bounces it behind the defense to Oshae Brissett for the strong dunk.
May 18, 2021  |  00:11

Domas Feeds Doug For Three

May 18, 2021: Domantas Sabonis with the slick feed to Doug McDermott for the 3-pointer.
May 18, 2021  |  00:10

Game Rewind: Pacers 144, Hornets 117 (Play-In Tournament)

Tuesday, May 18, 2021 at 6:30 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
by Brendan Rourke Contributor

Game Recap

Hours before Tuesday's inaugural Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament game, the Pacers were delivered a surprising piece of news. Due to the NBA's health and safety protocols, star guard Caris LeVert was added to an already-extensive injury list. Although the blow became a bit less severe after Malcolm Brogdon declared himself available, national news analysts debated whether Indiana had enough power to knock off a young and persistent Charlotte Hornets squad.

Soon after tipoff, the analysts' questions were answered. Brogdon started tonight's contest at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a 3-pointer, and the squad never looked back. The Blue & Gold routed the Hornets, 144-117. Indiana finished 58-of-105, including 16-of-35 from deep. Charlotte never led.

In all, eight Pacers finished in double figures in the score-fest. Oshae Brissett finished with a team-high 23 on 10-of-14 shooting, including 3-of-6 from deep. Doug McDermott tallied 21, doing a team-high 20 first-half points of damage behind four triples. After struggling to score in the first half, Domantas Sabonis finished with a monstrous 14-point, 21-rebound double-double, falling one assist shy of a triple-double.

"Everybody got going," said Brogdon after finishing with 16 points and eight assists. "It's the best when all your teammates score and get to have fun, and everybody's standing up on the bench. I thought we had fun tonight, and I thought everybody contributed. That's the best part of tonight."

Brogdon appeared in his first game since April 29 after suffering a hamstring strain.

HOTCHKISS: Pacers Emphatic About Not Wanting Season to End »

A lightning-quick start for the Blue & Gold's offense turned into 40 first-quarter points for Indiana. The squad started 8-of-11 from the floor, including a scorching 6-of-7 from long range. Showing off his accuracy, McDermott quickly connected on three straight shots from deep. His triple from the right baseline at the 7:45 mark extended Indiana's lead to 20-7 and finally forced a Charlotte Hornets timeout.

"(I came) out with an aggressive mindset," McDermott said postgame. "Just really trying to impose my will on the game. I thought 'Domas' (Sabonis) and Malcolm (Brogdon) did a really good job getting me going."

Despite the stoppage, the three-ball continued to be the Pacers' best friend as they controlled a double-digit lead through the halfway point. On Indiana's first possession, McDermott fired in his fourth consecutive trey. At the 4:43 mark, Brissett knocked in a triple — his second — from the left side to earn a 28-14 Indiana lead.

The Blue & Gold closed out the frame strong. T.J. McConnell added a pair of buckets, including a steal-and-finish with 13.7 seconds to go. Edmond Sumner capped the impressive quarter with a buzzer-beating floater from the left elbow. They headed to the second with a 40-24 advantage, finishing the period on 15-for-25 (60 percent) shooting — 7-of-14 from downtown. McDermott recorded 16 points.

Indiana appeared on its way to a blowout, starting the second with five straight points to stretch its lead to 45-24. However, Charlotte responded with six unanswered to show a bit of fight.

But the Pacers were not phased. Consecutive layups from McConnell and Kelan Martin pushed the squad's advantage back up to 19 with 8:35 to play.

Although they cooled off, Indiana continued to hold a substantial lead over the next few minutes. Charlotte attempted a rally, using a powerful slam from Miles Bridges and a Malik Monk trey to chip into the lead. However, with 4:34 to play, Brogdon responded with a crafty three-point play in the paint, finishing a layup over his right shoulder to give the Blue & Gold a 55-37 lead.

In the final minutes, the Pacers then sliced up the Hornet's interior for several easy layups in the paint. Brissett and McDermott were the primary recipients, while Brogdon and Justin Holiday sprinkled in threes to give Indiana the 24-point advantage at the break.

Halftime did little to slow the hosts down. Indiana started the third with six unanswered, including another three from Brogdon, to stretch its lead to 76-41 with 10:47 left.

The large lead allowed Indiana to control the game as the third ticked past its halfway point. Brissett and Sabonis were the primary scorers on offense. After Cody Zeller's running dunk brought the Hornets to within 24 of the lead, the former Fort Wayne Mad Ant added five consecutive points to his total, including a 26-foot trey from the top of the key to extend the Pacers' lead back to 29. Sabonis then tallied six of the next seven Indiana points, as the squad held a 96-69 lead with 2:55 remaining.

Fittingly, consecutive triples from the team's iron-man, Justin Holiday, pushed the Pacers past the 100-point mark with 1:40 to go in the third. Holiday was the lone Pacer to appear in all 72 regular-season games. McConnell ended the Blue & Gold's 39-point third quarter with consecutive turnaround jumpers — his signature move. His latter jumper, a beautiful buzzer-beating fadeaway, left him sprawled on the floor with a sigh of relief on his face. Indiana led 108-78 heading into the fourth.

Early in the fourth, it was clear that there would not be a Charlotte comeback. Indiana kept its foot on the gas. With 9:16 to play, McConnell bottled up LaMelo Ball and swiped his fourth steal of the contest. The guard dished to Aaron Holiday, who then found Brissett for a running alley-oop flush to keep a 116-86 Indiana lead.

The blowout allowed players like Brogdon and Sabonis to rest for their next contest. Getting his first taste of a playoff-like NBA game, Cassius Stanley provided fans with another highlight — a running one-handed flush. The rookie's bucket pushed Indiana to a 136-100 lead with 4:06 to go.

The squad approached its franchise-high 152-point performance against Oklahoma City. But they fell eight points short. Nonetheless, it was a tremendous victory for a team that has battled through so much this season.

Inside the Numbers

Oshae Brissett led the team in scoring for the third time this season.

T.J. McConnell finished with a bench-high 17 points, five boards, and four steals. Kelan Martin and Goga Bitadze added 14 each.

The Pacers outscored the Hornets in the paint, 74-46

Indiana won the battle on the glass, 54-36.

You Can Quote Me On That

"(It) definitely energized us. I think any team playing in this format at this stage in the season is playing as hard as they can. I think Charlotte came out as hard as they could. Their shots didn't fall tonight. I thought we played a better game." –Brogdon on how the do-or-die scenario helped the team's play

"I try to take every game and keep it the same. That's kind of how I've been able to focus up and stay calm throughout these games. But, (it's) really like any other moment. Being out there with those guys is a blessing and an honor. I'm just happy to be able to do my part." –Brissett on his performance despite his short tenure in the NBA

"The physicality that we played with. It was a physical game out there. The connectivity on defense. The way that we were talking. I thought that we were very well connected there and that triggered our offense. The active defense triggers offense, and good offense can help your defense." –Bjorkgren on what he hopes carries over to the team's next Play-In game

Stat of the Night

Indiana shot 55.2 percent from the floor and 45.7 percent from deep. They are 22-3 this season when shooting 50 percent or better and 30-5 when out-shooting their opponent.


  • Indiana will face the Washington Wizards on Thursday for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The winner of that will advance to a best-of-seven first-round series with top seed Philadelphia.
  • The Hornets had taken two of three regular-season matchups against the Pacers.
  • The 144 points were the second-most points the Pacers have scored in a game this season.

Up Next

The Pacers will travel to Washington for another Play-In Tournament game against Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook, and the Wizards on Thursday, May 20 at 8:00 PM ET.


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