After a four-game road trip, the Pacers returned home to host the Charlotte Hornets for the fourth and final time this season.
After the squads battled to a one-point game at halftime, the Hornets erupted in the second half with blazing-hot shooting. Charlotte scored 87 points over the final 24 minutes to set a new franchise record for total points in a game. Indiana fell in regulation, 158-126.
It is the most points scored by a Pacers opponent in franchise history.
Four Hornets (27-22) finished with 20 points or more. Kelly Oubre Jr. led the way with a game-high 39 points, including 10 made 3-pointers. As a team, Charlotte made 24 treys (45 attempts).
On a bright note, eight Pacers (17-32) finished in double figures for the first time this season. Despite having foul troubles, Goga Bitadze and Isaiah Jackson both finished with 17 points apiece. Jackson also tallied a steal and a block. Lance Stephenson had an impressive game off the bench, recording 14 points and 10 assists in 28 minutes. But, it turned out to be not nearly enough as Charlotte ignited in the second half.
“They came out and attacked a little harder,” said Rick Carlisle. “Their shot-making was really on point tonight.”
“Obviously, they were making shots,” Torrey Craig (14 points) said. “So, we have to do a better job defensively...we started getting stagnant (offensively), started turning the ball over, and that fueled their break.”
The Hornets had the edge in the first few minutes. After forcing three Indiana turnovers, Charlotte’s speedy offensive pace kept Indiana's defense on its heels. At the 8:52 mark, Terry Rozier knocked in a trey to stretch the visitors’ lead to 12-3 and force an early timeout from Rick Carlisle.
The break appeared to fix a few things for Indiana. Soon after, the squad mounted a 14-7 run to close the gap to 19-17 with 5:49 left. Bitadze and Craig combined for nine points of the spree.
Despite a Hornets timeout, Indiana continued to roll. Two triples from Justin Holiday and Bitadze’s three-point play in the paint gave Indiana a slim lead with just over four minutes remaining.
With Lance Stephenson running point and dishing seven dimes, Indiana remained ahead the rest of the period. They led 36-33 after one, finishing 14-of-21 (66.7 percent) from the field.
The squads battled in close combat during the early moments of the second. But, the visitors earned the upper hand after hitting a few shots from deep. Tied at 43, Kelly Oubre Jr. canned his second triple of the frame to give Charlotte the lead. PJ Washington’s hook shot at the 8:17 mark then widened the gap to five.
However, the lead never grew. Instead, Indiana climbed back to tie the score on four occasions over a 2:29 span. A pair of LeVert free throws gave Indiana a 56-54 lead with 5:35 left.
Over the next few minutes, the Hornets’ speed caused Indiana to commit several fouls. By the three-minute mark, the Pacers had collected its 17th team foul of the game, and three each for Bitadze and Isaiah Jackson. Forced to play the smaller Oshae Brissett at center, the squad trailed by a small margin for a spell.
Duarte earned a brief 64-63 Pacers lead on a steal-and-slam. But, Charlotte recorded five unanswered to snag a four-point advantage with 1:44 remaining.
Stephenson did his best to grab a lead before the break, hitting two free throws with 29.1 seconds remaining. But, Rozier got the lucky bounce on a late triple to earn a 71-70 edge.
Then, everything changed.
Out of the break, Charlotte mounted a 13-2 run. The spree snagged an 84-72 advantage before Carlisle called his second timeout of the frame at the 8:47 mark. Several times, the young Hornets’ speed burned the Pacers in transition.
While Indiana found its offensive footing, the Pacers defense had trouble stopping LaMelo Ball on the other end. The dynamic guard countered Indiana’s buckets with eight straight Hornets points, including a deep four-point play. The run maintained a solid double-digit lead (97-82) for the visitors as the midway point of the third passed.
Charlotte’s margin reached 20 points (102-82) after Oubre connected on a trey with 4:47 left in the third. The former Kansas guard knocked the bucket in after the Pacers committed their 23rd team foul. However, Stephenson remained steadfast for Indiana.
The Pacer legend knocked in three straight buckets in 36 seconds to cut the Hornets’ lead to 104-88 with 3:44 to play in the third.
Stephenson's stretch started a 10-2 Pacers run that trimmed the deficit to 14 with 1:53 remaining. However, the Hornets’ quick hands forced several Indiana miscues. In a blink, Charlotte’s lead grew to 112-92 after another Oubre three. The visitors finished the third with 42 points and led by 19 heading into the final frame.
The story remained the same as the fourth started. Charlotte stayed red hot. Ball, Oubre, and James Bouknight hit triples in a 13-0 run that pushed Charlotte’s lead to 129-100 with 9:12 remaining.
With Charlotte running away, Terry Taylor earned his first significant minutes for Indiana. Coming off a 39-point night with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, he tallied his first NBA points on a finger-roll with 8:14 left.
Bridges’ triple with 5:14 left eventually set Charlotte’s new franchise record of points scored in a game. Charlotte added 12 more to their total before time expired.
Indiana travels to Oklahoma City to play the Thunder on Friday night.
Inside the Numbers
The Hornets racked up 30 fast-break points compared to Indiana’s 15
Indiana turned the ball over 20 times for 27 Charlotte points
Stephenson dished out seven assists in the first quarter. It is the second time he reached seven assists in a quarter this season (Jan. 8)
You Can Quote Me On That
“It’s hard. It’s not like you’re going to forget about it. But, you have to use it as motivation. Just go out there and kill the last (33) games we have left.” – Bitadze on getting over the loss
“Hopefully we just learn from it. Sometimes you need games like this to wake you back up. Coming off the road trip – tough road trip. I thought we competed the entire trip. And we come home and play like that – it’s definitely not ideal. But, we go on the road again. We just have to take on the challenge and bounce back” – Craig on the loss
Stat of the Night
158 sets a new franchise record for the most points by a Pacers opponent. The previous high was 155 in a five-point overtime loss to Denver in 1982
- Charlotte swept the regular-season series for the first time since the 2015-16 season
- The Pacers fell below .500 at home (12-13)
- The Hornets secured their first victory of the season when playing on the second night of a back-to-back (1-8)
The Pacers return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to tip off a three-game homestand against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, Jan. 31 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »