PACERSRECAP #4: The Indiana Pacers lost their fourth game of the season last night as the Chicago Bulls lit their defense on fire in the first half with back-to-back 38-point quarters and cruised to a 124-109 win.
The pesky Pacers refused to go away and did get the deficit down into single digits a few times including once at 95-91 but couldn’t string enough stops together to overcome the gigantic hole they put themselves in at the start as the Bulls hit five of their first six 3-point attempts and were ahead 30-15 with 4 minutes left in the first. It’s a similar story to about every game this season except for the Pistons game where they completed the comeback after the terrible start.
#1 Myles Turner is back but he isn’t saving this defense.
No one should have expected Turner to magically fix the many flaws of perimeter defense on this team but tonight was the quick confirmation that they had plenty of issues that go beyond missing their Rim Protector Supreme.
Turner, on his end, had a rough start to finally getting back on the floor though some rust should be expected after a long time out. Due to switches or transition mismatches, Turner ended up being the player defending at least three of the 3-point makes in the opening run as LaVine and others made shots right over him. He committed two turnovers in the paint and had about the ugliest brick not shot by Russell Westbrook this season from deep. He didn’t score and had two rebounds and a block in his opening minutes.
He did start to find his rhythm on defense in the fourth quarter as he gathered three blocks in six minutes, finishing with four on the night. Andre Drummond has now been blocked by Turner 22 times in his career, the most of any player, and Zach LaVine, who was blocked twice tonight and is another frequent flyer of the Myles High Club, has now been blocked by Turner 13 times.
He hit just one of seven shots but got to the line a few times and finished with 5 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 assists, and 1 steal in his 24 minutes.
Sidenote: Why does Quinn Buckner think Myles Turner was the one defending on the perimeter when paired with Domas Sabonis the last few years? Come on, Quinn. You broadcasted all of these games. Myles always played center on defense while Sabonis was among the league leaders in distance run chasing guys around. The offensive end of the floor is where Turner was serving as a stretch 4 and playing primarily on the perimeter.
#2 The game isn’t over until Bennedict Mathurin hears the final buzzer.
This was sadly maybe the most interesting part of the game because it broke decorum or unwritten rules or whatever. With the Pacers down 17 and the Dalen Terry of the Bulls dribbling the clock out, Mathurin walked over to his college teammate, seemingly looking like he was going to dap him up when the clock ran out. Instead, Mathurin suddenly rushed in for a steal and raced the other way as he got fouled by Terry at the rim. Terry helped him up but clearly was annoyed and gave him a slight shove to the side after picking him up. Mathurin then discussed the event back and forth with Nikola Vucevic while hitting the two free throws while pointing to the clock and saying, “It’s not over!” They continued calmly discussing it without further issue briefly after the final buzzer.
Personally, I generally enjoy this stuff (reminded me of Lance against the Raptors in his original return to Indiana game) and I like Mathurin’s attitude of playing until the final buzzer even if it’s really just stat padding. With the additional element of him doing it to a college teammate, it’s hilarious. To defend Mathurin’s claim of the game not being over beyond the obvious time is still remaining, here’s one of an infinite number of possible scenarios where the Pacers win the game after Mathurin made both free throws with 7.9 seconds left and trailing by 15:
- Pacers force a 5-second call on the ensuing inbounds play.
- Mathurin comes racing off a screen and hits a 3 off the catch and is fouled. Clock stopped at 6.5 seconds left. Pacers down 12.
- Mathurin misses the free throw but Terry Taylor tips in the miss with 6 seconds left. Pacers down 10.
- Aaron Nesmith steals the inbound pass under the basket and immediately scores and is fouled with 5.2 seconds left and makes the free throw. Pacers down 7.
- Mathurin steals the following in-bounds pass and quickly bounces back to the 3-point line and makes it with 2.9 seconds left. Pacers down 4.
- Andrew Nembhard slaps the next inbounds pass off of Malcolm Hill. Clock down to 2.1 seconds left.
- Chris Duarte cuts to the basket on a beautifully designed out-of-bounds play and throws down a vicious dunk over Nikola Vucevic with 0.3 seconds left. Pacers down 2.
- Billy Donovan, panicking, calls a timeout to advance the ball.
- With his starters back in the game, DeRozan still thinking the game was over casually throws the in-bounds pass sky high into the air so that the game ends as soon as anyone touches it. However, as it returns towards the hardwood, Mathurin leaps into the air like a volleyball player and spikes the ball towards the basket. It goes in. Pacers win by 1.
Outside of that moment, Mathurin continued to show his ability to draw fouls and finished with 10 free throws in the game. Eventually, we’ll need to talk about his defensive struggles but he continues to be the Pacers best rookie performer since Jamaal Tinsley over 20 years ago.
#3 Buddy Hield and Jalen Smith get hot in the third quarter.
We had our first Hield flamethrower moment of the season as he hit three triples in the third quarter as he led the way to the Pacers getting as close as four points. Hield hit 7 3-pointers in the game which may be more than the 0-4 Lakers have hit all the season and led the team in scoring with 24 points.
Jalen Smith was hitting step-back triples and had one of those stretches where he looks like the best player on the floor. He finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. He continues to look much more comfortable when he’s playing as a power forward rather than at center; he just needs to figure out how to put it together for an entire game and not just a single half. This Dirk-esque fadeaway against Drummond in the post was nasty.
During the pre-game show, Bally Sports aired a segment featuring Smith reading tweets from before free agency and then some after free agency, two memorable Pacers Twitter bits.
- Chris Duarte showed some signs of life in this one in the first half with his jump shot but cooled off a bit. He finished with 12 points on 11 shots.
- Goga Bitadze, who was maybe the Pacers best big in the team’s first four games, was the odd man out in the rotation with Myles Turner out. Another reminder of how even if he was a poor selection in 2019 (Grant Williams and Brandon Clarke both could have been so nice to have on the roster), he also has had very little chance to get on the floor with any consistency beyond the end of the last season.
- Tyrese Haliburton had probably his worst game of the season and he still put up 18 points and 11 assists. 6 turnovers and making only 6 of 15 shots takes the shine off those numbers a bit but he’s still just ridiculously good and hit a tremendous floater while fading towards the corner off the glass that dropped my jaw. He’s so fun to watch. He did let Buddy cook a few possessions too long in the third quarter once the magic had faded.
- Terry Taylor has been on the court but silent in the last three games. He’s only scored 2 points in 41 minutes over those games. Teams picking up on his offensive rebounding skills and preventing them? It’s been an odd start for last year’s diamond-in-the-rough darling.
- Andrew Nembhard came in before TJ McConnell in this game and continues to fit and do good things when he’s on the floor. He only played 9 minutes compared to McConnell’s 12 but hit his only shot and added a couple assists and a steal. It’s been good to see him find minutes on as the two-guard with two guys in front of him at point.
- Full disclosure: I had nine dumb parlays using free bets on this game and the only one that hit had Mathurin at 15+ points. Mathurin finished with 15 points thanks to that steal and foul, so that may explain why I found that one enjoyable.
- Isaiah Jackson did this. 👀
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