No one gave the Pacers much of a chance on Thursday night in San Francisco. Playing on the second night of a back-to-back and without their three leading scorers, the Blue & Gold were facing an uphill battle.
In fact, with Indiana trailing by eight at halftime, TNT analyst Charles Barkley quipped, "I'm proud of the Pacers for just trying" and said they had "no chance of winning."
But the Pacers proved Barkley wrong. Indiana's rag-tag group of reserves put together one of the most memorable performances of the season, taking a stunning lead into the final minute at Chase Center. Even after Golden State rallied to take the lead, Justin Holiday's 3-pointer forced overtime.
In the extra session, Indiana once again faced adversity, falling behind by five. But Chris Duarte and Keifer Sykes hit big shots down the stretch in overtime to lift the Pacers (17-29) to a stunning 121-117 victory over the Warriors (32-13).
"This is one of those nights that the Indiana faithful live for," Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said after the victory. "These are the stories of underdog teams that give themselves a fighting chance and find a way. It was beautiful to watch, beautiful to be a part of.
"I was really happy for the guys. They really fought for it."
Golden State led 110-107 with 9.4 seconds left when Carlisle called timeout. He drew up a play to get a look for Holiday, who buried a three from the right wing to tie the game with 5.1 seconds left.
On the other end, Juan Toscano-Anderson drove and had a look at the rim to win the game, but couldn't get it to fall, sending the game into overtime.
Toscano-Anderson made up for his miss early in the extra session with a two-hand slam to open the scoring in overtime. After the Pacers missed two looks at the rim, Andrew Wiggins buried a 3-pointer to push the hosts' lead to five.
The Pacers wouldn't go away, however. Rookie guard Duarte hit a jumper with 3:12 remaining, then intercepted a pass and cruised for a two-hand jam to make it a one-point game. Oshae Brissett hit one of two foul shots with 2:16 remaining to tie the game again at 115.
After Wiggins missed a three, Keifer Sykes drilled a deep trey from the left wing to give Indiana the lead with 1:40 to play. Curry missed a 3-point attempt of his own and once again Sykes came through, this time driving past Andre Iguodala with the shot clock winding down and converting a right-handed layup with 1:07 remaining.
Wiggins' layup made it 120-117 with 1:06 remaining. Sykes missed a three, giving the Warriors a chance to tie the game once again. Toscano-Anderson and Jordan Poole both missed shots from beyond the arc, but the ball went out of bounds off Indiana after the second miss.
Out of a timeout, Poole missed another look from the left corner, but the ball found its way out to Curry at the top of the key. He also couldn't get his shot to drop, and Sykes finally came up with a rebound and was fouled with 11.4 seconds remaining.
The Warriors somehow materialized one last chance, forcing a jump ball, which they won with 6.4 seconds left. Indiana gave a foul on Curry, then on the next inbound, Holiday forced the ball went out of bounds. It was initially ruled Warriors ball, but Carlisle challenged the call and a replay review determined the ball went off of Warriors guard Klay Thompson.
Jeremy Lamb drew a foul and hit one of two free throws in the closing seconds to seal a signature win for a shorthanded Indiana squad.
The Pacers, already without starting center Myles Turner (left foot stress reaction), also did not have three other starters on Thursday. All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis is expected to be out for a few games after spraining his left ankle late in Wednesday's win over the Lakers. Shooting guard Caris LeVert also was inactive due to a sore right calf, while point guard Malcolm Brogdon sat out the second night of the back-to-back as he continues to work his way back from a right Achilles injury.
But in their absence, the remaining players banded together for a memorable victory. Duarte led the way with 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Six others reached double figures in the victory.
It was enough to overcome an All-Star performance from Curry, who had a game-high 39 points to go along with five rebounds and eight assists while going 6-for-16 from 3-point range.
"It was a beautiful game for us," Carlisle said. "Everyone stepped up into a larger level of responsibility tonight. And the guys that were unable to play tonight — Malcolm, Caris, Domas, Myles — they were up all night encouraging those guys."
To the surprise of many, the two teams headed into the fourth quarter tied at 83. Curry's fifth three of the night broke the tie on the opening possession of the final frame. Two Poole free throws pushed the Warriors' lead to five, but Indiana answered with six straight to retake the lead.
That lead was short-lived, however, as Curry got to the rim on the very next possession and scored to put Golden State back in front with 9:43 to play. A Nemanja Bjelica layup and Gary Payton II steal and slam on the next two possessions capped a quick 6-0 spurt.
Indiana got back within one a short while later when Torrey Craig stripped Kevon Looney and scored in transition to cut it to 94-93 with 7:04 left. On the other end, Curry dished to a cutting Payton who threw down a massive slam through contact from Goga Bitadze. The two players exchanged words after the contact and were both assessed technical fouls. It was the second technical for Bitadze, meaning he was ejected with 6:44 remaining.
Still, the Pacers continued to battle. Duarte pulled up from the top of the key and drained a go-ahead 3-pointer with 6:02 remaining. On the next possession, Isaiah Jackson intercepted Klay Thompson's pass to trigger a fastbreak, where Holiday cleaned up Jackson's miss to push Indiana's lead to 100-96.
Indiana extended its lead to five on a lob to Jackson from Holiday with 3:37 to play. But on the other end, Toscano-Anderson buried a trey. Then after a Holiday miss, Curry corralled a loose ball near the sideline at midcourt, drove through traffic and converted a tough layup to tie the game at 106 with 2:44 remaining.
The Pacers called timeout, but weren't able to get a clean look after the break, as the Warriors' stifling defense forced a shot clock violation. On the other end, Wiggins missed a jumper and Iguodala fouled Jackson fighting for the rebound, sending the rookie to the line with 1:57 to play.
Jackson missed the first, but made the second to give the visitors a one-point lead. The two teams traded misses for the next four possessions as the clock ticked under one minute.
Out of a timeout, the Warriors put the ball in Curry's hands. He drove by Duarte on the left wing and drew a foul on Craig at the rim with 34.5 seconds remaining. The two-time MVP knocked both foul shots to put the hosts back in front.
On the other end, Craig drove left and and took a shot over Iguodala on the baseline, but couldn't get it to drop. Indiana had to foul Curry with 9.4 seconds left and he drained both free throws to make it a three-point game, but Holiday answered on the other end to force overtime.
The Warriors had jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the opening minutes of Thursday's contest, but Bitadze did his best to keep Indiana within striking distance early. The third-year center out of the Republic of Georgia scored eight of the Blue & Gold's first 14 points, knocking down a 3-pointer, converting a three-point play, and then throwing down a two-hand slam at the 6:26 mark in the opening quarter that trimmed the deficit to 15-14.
Bitadze later added a putback layup to cap a 10-point quarter, but Golden State used an 12-4 run to open a nine-point lead. Jackson's one-hand slam just before the quarter buzzer shaved two points off that margin, as Indiana trailed 30-23 entering the second quarter.
Duane Washington Jr. provided a spark off the bench in the second quarter, scoring eight points and hitting back-to-back threes. His second trey cut the deficit to 44-41 with 6:15 remaining in the half. Thompson's layup at 5:44 pushed the Warriors' lead back to five, but the Pacers kept coming.
Indiana trimmed the deficit to one on four occasions over the next few minutes, twice thanks to baskets by Duarte. The Pacers couldn't quite get over the hump, however, and the Warriors eventually strung together a mini run, as Looney's putback slam and Curry's transition three pushed their lead back to 58-52 with 1:42 left before halftime, drawing a timeout from Carlisle.
The Warriors added two points to their lead before the intermission, taking a 63-55 advantage into the locker room.
The Blue & Gold came out firing out of the break with a 13-3 run. Holiday and Duarte each knocked down a 3-pointer and then Craig's bucket in the paint tied the game at 63. Curry responded with a deep three over Bitadze, but Duarte scored on a layup and then Craig drove and dished to Holiday in the left corner for a trey to give Indiana its first lead since the opening minutes of the contest.
Neither team led by more than three points for the remainder of the third quarter. In total, there were eight ties and eight lead changes in the frame. Damion Lee's triple with 40.7 seconds left in the frame put the hosts up 83-80, but Lee then fouled Lamb on a 3-point attempt at the end of the third quarter. Lamb knocked down all three foul shots to knot the game up entering the fourth quarter.
After a hard-fought final frame and overtime, the undermanned Pacers walked away with a hard-earned win, perhaps one of the biggest shockers in the NBA this season.
"The locker room was going crazy," Jackson said. "It's still crazy right now. It was a big team win, good confidence boost for the rest of the West Coast trip."
Holiday scored 16 points on the night, going 4-for-9 from 3-point range, none bigger than his clutch shot to force overtime.
Jackson had 15 points, seven rebounds, and three steals in 19 minutes off the bench, while fellow reserve Lamb chipped in 14 and went 8-for-10 from the free throw line. Bitadze (13 points, nine boards, and five assists), Craig (12 points and seven rebounds), and Sykes (10 points, four boards, and three assists) all also finished in double figures.
Looney had 13 points and 15 rebounds for the Warriors, while Wiggins added 11. Thompson scored 12 in 23 minutes, but went 0-for-7 from 3-point range.
After dropping eight straight road contests dating back to Nov. 22, the Pacers have now won two straight on the road for the first time this season. They continue a five-game trip on Saturday night in Phoenix before wrapping it up on Monday in New Orleans.
Inside the Numbers
Duarte topped 20 points for the fourth time this season and the second time on the road trip. He had 24 points against the Clippers on Monday.
Seven Pacers reached double figures in the win, the fourth time that has happened this season.
Indiana went 15-for-35 (42.9 percent) from 3-point range, with six different players making multiple threes.
Conversely, the Warriors were just 9-for-42 (21.4 percent) from beyond the arc. Golden State players aside from Curry went just 3-for-26 (11.5 percent) from 3-point range.
The Pacers forced Golden State into 21 turnovers, one shy of the most by a Pacers opponent this season (Miami had 22 giveaways in another overtime contest on Oct. 23).
You Can Quote Me On That
"This is a group that's gaining more and more belief in themselves. As we said at the beginning, we want to be one of those teams that nobody wants to play. And tonight we showed the wherewithal and the resiliency to do that." -Carlisle on momentum from the past two victories
"I think we did a great job defensively, moving the ball, playing together, playing for each other, believing in each other. That was a big part of the game." -Duarte on the keys to pulling the upset
"This is truly one of the hardest teams to play against and match up against and come up with a team up against because of the amazing abilities that their players have. They have great coaching. They're a well-oiled machine." -Carlisle on the Warriors
"It feels amazing to step out there and play. At the end of the day, I'm a hooper. Just sitting on the sidelines, it's all good picking stuff up from the vets and stuff, but actually playing and being out there is way (more fun)." -Jackson on getting his opportunity to play major minutes
"I'm just trying to play fast. Coach has been talking to me about playing fast, not thinking too much...I think I've made a big step (in my development)." -Duarte on his recent strong play
Stat of the Night
Duarte and Jackson, the Pacers' two first-round picks in the 2021 NBA Draft, both matched or set career highs in scoring. Duarte's 27 points matched his total in the season opener in Charlotte on Oct. 20, while Jackson's 15 points were nine more than his previous high.
- Indiana is now 5-3 on the season when playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
- The Pacers have won three straight games at Golden State.
- Indiana entered the night with the second-worst road record in the NBA (4-17), while Golden State had the best home record in the league (19-3).
The Pacers head to Phoenix to take on Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and the Suns on Saturday, Jan. 22 at 9:00 PM ET.
After a five-game Western Conference road trip, the Pacers return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host Gordon Hayward and the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »