Summer League Grades: Pacers have a few solid performances despite losing big lead

The Indiana Pacers fell in the first-round of the Las Vegas Summer League to the Atlanta Hawks. After building up a 27-point lead early in the third quarter, the Hawks slowly chipped away at the Pacers lead until suddenly it was gone. Trae Young finished them off with some ridiculous passes to keep holding the Atlanta lead down the stretch.

The Pacers will have a single remaining consolation game on Friday against the Brooklyn Nets at 4 p.m.

This was easily the most entertaining game for the Summer Pacers, even with the disappointing ending, with many players having their best games in Las Vegas.

If you missed any of the other game’s grades, click on the following links: Game 1, Game 2, Game 3.

Alize Johnson: A-

Alize Johnson is probably the MVP for the Pacers Summer League team in Las Vegas. In his first start, he scored 12 points and added 14 rebounds, three assists and one steal in 25 minutes. He had zero turnovers.

He continues to showcase his relentlessness on the glass and always seems to be at the right place at the right time. Half of his 14 boards came on the offensive end.

He’s fantastic at knowing when his teammate is about to go up for his shot and getting a bit of a head start on the defender tasked with blocking him out. You can see this on both the play above and below.

He continues to look the most comfortable offensively in transition. Johnson had a few of his usual grab-and-go rebounds to start the break but he also showed some tremendous touch passes that set up multiple dunks for Alex Poythress.

It wasn’t all perfect. He didn’t connect on either 3-point attempt and forced a couple looks inside that probably should have been passed back out, but his motor, ability to defend multiple positions with quick feet and his transition passing were all impressive tonight.

Aaron Holiday: C

It was a tale of two halves for Holiday. In the first half, he made 4 of his 8 shots for 10 points. In the second half, he went 1 for 9 and scored only three points.

Holiday got a little caught up in trying to be the hero as the Hawks took control behind Trae Young late. Much like in his battle against Collin Sexton, Holiday seemed determined to match any big play made by the opposing first-round selection. Down the stretch in this one, however, Holiday missed some quick shots from 3 and was unable to bring the Pacers back once the lead was lost.

There will still some encouraging signs from the rookie. He had nine assists and only four turnovers (eight turnovers in the previous game). His vision when passing it out to shooters on the pick and roll continues to be solid.

Holiday had some nice drives to the rim in the first half, but also continued his struggles finishing at the rim at times as well. He’s now just 12 for 46 in his last three games from the field (26%).

He also added three steals and one block on the defensive end.

TJ Leaf: INC

Knee soreness forced Leaf to sit out the second half, but the first half was probably the best he has played in Las Vegas. It’d be surprising to see him back out there on Friday whether the injury is minor or not as the Pacers are likely to take the cautious approach and keep him out during the consolation game.

Leaf put up a line of nine points (3 for 7), two assists, one rebound, one block and two steals in his 13 first-half minutes. He made a 3-pointer, had some nice drives to the rim, and made a few solid defensive plays.

Alex Poythress: A-

Poythress put up 21 points, seven rebounds and two steals in easily his best performance of the four games. He started off the game by scoring the Pacers first two buckets with a dunk and a corner three.

He showed some nice chemistry with Alize Johnson in transition as the two connected on three different plays that led to dunks for Poythress.

It’s still unclear what the Pacers plans are for Poythress after waiving him before Summer League started, but whether it’s another 2-way contract or a spot on the end of the bench this game was his best effort to show the team what he can do.

Ben Moore: B+

Moore’s numbers look modest with seven points (2 of 4), one assist, two rebounds, one block and three steals, but he made a big impact on the game. A lot of what Moore does is in that last video in the Poythress section. He’ll get something started with his hustle or defensive effort, but the end glory will go to someone else.

You can see the same thing here as he fights alongside Johnson against a Hawks player for an offensive rebound, pokes the ball loose, gets up the shot and Johnson ends up tipping it in for the points.

He had some aggressive drives to the rim early including this crowd-pleasing crossover and slam.

Moore seems like a likely candidate for the 2-way contract again this year, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see him on the Pacers roster either if Indiana decides to fill all 15 spots and not leave one open at the start of the season.

Edmond Sumner: B+

Sumner was probably the only Pacers player that had a better second half than first as he scored eight points at the end of the third quarter including five straight points in just over 20 seconds.

His jump shot continued to look much better than in his first game as he made 4 of his 5 attempts from the field for a very efficient 12 points.

The Hawks went on a 11-0 run that started their big comeback and Sumner stopped the bleeding momentarily with this driving layup with the off hand.

He added three assists, two rebounds, one steal and one block.

No notes from the other Pacers today. They were mostly the reason the lead started to evaporate as many of the players had a double-digit negative plus/minus despite playing limited minutes.

One last game for the Pacers in their Summer League debut in Las Vegas. It will be interesting to see how many of Indiana’s players that are likely to be on the team end up playing. Typically, that last game in the Orlando Summer League was mostly played by the guys likely to be playing overseas or in the G-League. We’ll see if the Pacers do the same on Friday against the Nets.


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