Pacers vs Nuggets

GAME RECAP: Nuggets 124, Pacers 116

Michael Porter Jr. scores 25 points as the Nuggets get the win over the Pacers, 124-116.

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GAME RECAP: Nuggets 124, Pacers 116

Michael Porter Jr. scores 25 points as the Nuggets get the win over the Pacers, 124-116.
Jan 2, 2020  |  00:01

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Jan. 2, 2020

Jan. 2, 2020 - Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, and Myles Turner discuss Indiana's 124-116 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jan 2, 2020  |  01:37

Postgame: McMillan Press Conference - Jan. 2, 2020

Jan. 2, 2020 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan speaks with the media following Indiana's 124-116 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jan 2, 2020  |  02:54

Turner Makes Smooth And-One on the Break

Myles Turner runs the floor and finishes the break with the finger roll through the contact.
Jan 2, 2020  |  00:09

McConnell Finds Warren Cutting

T.J. McConnell cleans up a broken play finding T.J. Warren cutting to the basket for two points.
Jan 2, 2020  |  00:09

McConnell Hits Tough Layup to End Q1

Indy runs a great inbound play, leading to a T.J. McConnell layup to end the opening period.
Jan 2, 2020  |  00:07

Domas Throws It Down

Domantas Sabonis and T.J. McConnell run the pick-&-roll leading to a big slam for Domas.
Jan 2, 2020  |  00:07

Lamb Hits Transition Trey

T.J. Warren gets the steal to start the fastbreak and hits Jeremy Lamb for the three pointer on the wing.
Jan 2, 2020  |  00:14

Lamb to Turner for the Slam

Lamb drives inside and dishes to Myles Turner for the easy slam.
Jan 2, 2020  |  00:08

Domas Finds Aaron Inside

Domas find Aaron Holiday cutting to the basket for the lay up.
Jan 2, 2020  |  00:10

Game Rewind: Pacers 116, Nuggets 124

Thursday, January 2, 2020 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
by Brendan Rourke
Pacers.com Contributor

Game Recap

It was a tough start to the new year for the Pacers on Thursday night.

With Malcolm Brogdon continuing to miss time due to a sore lower back, the Pacers (22-13) could not find a way to knock off a tough Denver Nuggets (24-10) squad in the second half, losing 124-116 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Blue & Gold have now lost in three of their last four outings.

Indiana's offense shot a blistering 70.0 percent (14-of-20) from the field in the first quarter to grab a 37-27 lead after one. But Denver would respond by dropping 35 in the second frame to pull to within two, 64-62, at the halftime break.

After grabbing a lead in the third, Denver would use two runs in the fourth quarter that would give them the lead for good. The rebounding bug hit Indiana once again, as 2018-19 All-Star Nikola Jokic found several second-chance points midway through the fourth to take the wind out of Indiana's sails.

"He's just a threat," Domantas Sabonis said of Jokic. "When he's on the court, everybody else becomes a bigger threat. Because when he's on the court, you kind of sag off help. When he's on the court, everybody has to be locked in cause he can find open guys cutting, spotting up. So, it's just tough."

20 of Jokic's 22 points came in the second half.

Jeremy Lamb finished with a game-high 30 points on 9-of-13 shooting, while Myles Turner and T.J. Warren added 21 and 20 apiece. Sabonis flirted with a triple-double, by finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists.

To go along with Jokic's 22, rookie forward Michael Porter Jr. tallied a career-high 25 points on 11-of-12 shooting, including 2-of-3 from deep for Denver. The Nuggets outrebounded the Pacers 15-7 in the final quarter, with six coming from the offensive glass, to put the game away.

"You have to tip your cap to him," Turner said of Porter Jr. "I mean, I've been following his career. I think he's been through a lot. It's kind of cool and refreshing to see someone like that go out and have a good game. You hope, obviously, it's against somebody else. But yeah, they have a lot of depth on that team, and you have to respect everybody."

The Pacers scored on five of their first six possessions of the game to grab an 11-6 lead early in the first quarter. With 8:03 remaining, Domantas Sabonis swiped the ball away from former Indiana Mr. Basketball Gary Harris, and found a cutting Aaron Holiday for a reverse layup that pushed the Blue & Gold's lead to seven.

Despite a timeout from Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, the Blue & Gold kept putting on a show. Indiana would rattle off an 11-4 run over the next 2:22 to extend its lead to 24-10 with 5:20 left in the first frame. The run was highlighted by an emphatic two-handed slam from Turner, and back-to-back 3-pointers from Lamb on consecutive Pacer possessions.

The Nuggets would trim Indiana's lead back to single digits on a four-point play from Jamal Murray with 4:40 left in the first. But Turner would continue his impressive first quarter by finishing a tough floater in the paint to give the Pacers a 29-19 lead less than a minute later.

Denver would respond with six unanswered points late in the frame to trim Indiana's lead down to four, 31-27, but Sabonis made sure Indiana closed out the quarter on a high note.

The big man turned the tide first with a sensational swat on the defensive end. T.J. McConnell would then throw a dime of a bounce pass that found the big man for a sprinting slam. Then, after a Denver turnover, Sabonis would return the favor. With 0.1 showing on the clock, he found McConnell for the reverse layup to close out the quarter with a 37-27 lead.

Coming out of the quarter break, a brief 5-0 Denver run threatened Indiana's lead. But the Sabonis and the second unit found their stride once again. The energetic squad would lead a 9-2 run, including threes from Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott, to grab a 46-34 lead with 9:15 left in the half.

The Blue & Gold would halt another Denver run thanks to the efforts of Lamb. The former UConn star scored the next 10 Pacer points to hold a 56-48 lead with 4:07 remaining in the half.

But Denver managed to climb back to within two thanks to the efforts of Mason Plumlee in the paint. With 3.5 seconds left, he finished a tough dunk through a foul call, but would miss the ensuing free throw to end the half.

Two three-point plays from Jokic, followed by five points from Harris, would assist Denver in grabbing its first lead of the ball game, 73-70 at the 9:17 mark of the third quarter.

However, the Pacers would respond with a 9-2 run, including four from Warren, to regain a 79-75 lead with 6:26 left to play in the third.

After an Indiana timeout, things would remain tight. The Pacers would hold on to a slim lead until Porter scored nine straight Denver points to grab an 86-84 lead for the Nuggets with 2:08 left in the period.

32 seconds later, McDermott's three from the right wing grabbed an 87-86 lead for Indiana. But Denver would close out the quarter with five straight points from Monte Morris, including a buzzer beating jumper, to grab a 92-88 lead heading into the final frame.

Anchored by six more points from Porter, Denver would begin the fourth quarter on an 8-3 run to pull ahead 100-91. With 9:11 remaining, a loose-ball scramble began in the paint. Porter ended up with the rock and added another jumper. Pacers coach Nate McMillan called a timeout in an attempt to regroup the team.

During the timeout, Turner checked in for Goga Bitadze and appeared to spark some life into Indiana. Two quick, three-point plays from Turner, including a nifty one-handed floater trimmed the Nuggets lead to 103-99 with 7:49 left to play. Just over a minute later, he would induce a roar from the crowd on his rainbow 3-pointer from the top of the key that pulled Indiana to within three, 107-104.

But Jokic and the Nuggets responded with a 10-3 run over a 3:40 span that pushed their lead up to 10. With 2:53 remaining, the seven-footer would grab two offensive rebounds en route to another bucket that forced McMillan to call a timeout once again.

With the Pacers trailing 120-112 and 1:25 showing, Sabonis had a chance to trim the lead to six, but missed two consecutive free throws, drawing the occasional groan from the crowd. Denver would easily close out the game from there.

Inside the Numbers

Indiana was outrebounded for the sixth consecutive game (47-34).

The Nuggets bested Indiana in points in the paint (66-50), second-chance points (19-12), and fastbreak points (18-11).

After limiting Denver to 27 points in the first quarter, Indiana surrendered 30 points or more in each of the remaining three quarters.

You Can Quote Me On That

"I've been talking about rebounding for two years. We knew coming into this season that was going to be a challenge. We will continue to show our guys and continue to talk about it. You've got to finish the play by rebounding the basketball. That's the hustle part of the game. We knew that was a strength of theirs, 15 offensive rebounds, 19 second chance points, 66 points in the paint, 18 fast break points, they just dominated in all aspects of the game. We never kept them from doing anything and when we forced them to miss, they got the rebound." – Pacers head coach Nate McMillan on what could be done about the team's ongoing struggles rebounding.

"I feel like at times we got stops but we just couldn't finish the possession with a rebound. When you're down late in the game, that just kills your energy. I think that really hurt us today." – Domantas Sabonis on rebounding as the difference tonight

"I felt like we had that feeling that we were up more than we were. I felt like we were just cruising because we were making shots, but those are the times we have to improve as a team and just go up by 20." – Domantas Sabonis on the missed opportunities tonight

Stat of the Night

Indiana gave up a season-high 124 points on 46-of-87 (52.9 percent) shooting in the loss.

Noteworthy

  • The loss snapped a six-game home winning streak for Indiana.
  • Jeremy Lamb (30 points) fell just two points shy of tying his career high.
  • Myles Turner posted his third game with 20 or more points this season.

Up Next

The Pacers tip off a two-game road trip in Atlanta against the Hawks on Saturday, Jan. 4 at 7:30 PM ET.

Tickets

After a two-game road trip, the Pacers return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to host Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat on Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »

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