The last time the Pacers played the Nuggets, they were on the cusp of showing true grit, ready to abandon their inconsistent play and announce to the NBA they had gelled as a team and could beat the scrappy Nuggets with ease. Then, they gave up 140 points and were publicly shamed on national television. Tonight, at home, the Pacers would look for revenge.
But…by revenge, I mean the Nuggets would look every bit as deadly as their performance in the shadow of Big Ben, scoring 34 first quarter points, and the Pacers had to hold on to keep things close. The bench unit, without GR3, would have to respond. If you just read this sentence and thought, “Jesus…” you would be surprised to learn the bench did well, cutting the Denver lead to three with 8 minutes to go in the half. A mix of strong plays by Ellis and awful plays by Stuckey before the starters trickled back in saw the Pacers get close, but in the final minutes of the quarter, a 17-4 run put the Nuggets up 64-53.
In the third, Mighty Aaron Brooks hit some threes to make things a little interesting, but poor defense leading to too many fouls had Denver in the bonus with more than half the quarter to go. In the fourth, the Nuggets were in the bonus, again, with more than half the quarter to go, but the game became watchable. The difference: PG got HOT. The free throw differential was too much to overcome (Denver was +32…32…32!!!!!). Pacers lose: 117-125