PACERSRECAP #10.2: The Denver Nuggets brought the Indiana Pacers back down to Earth and came back from an 18-point deficit to win 122-119.
If you missed part 1 on the Bennedict Mathurin experience and Isaiah Jackson’s ultra-efficient, prophecy-fulfilling 18 minutes, read that here.
3. Myles Turner vs. Nikola Jokic
If you look at Jokic’s overall numbers for the game, you might not think Myles Turner had the best defensive night against the 2-time MVP. 24 points (10 of 20) in 21 minutes with 6 rebounds and 4 assists, but Turner played fantastic defense down the stretch to give the Pacers a chance to salvage a win after blowing their big lead.
In the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, Jokic went 1 for 7 from the floor with just four points. And besides the final bizarre decision where Jokic shot the ball with 8 seconds left instead of waiting to be fouled, Turner was the defender on each miss with no double teams coming. He forced tough contested inside shots that all went out.
In the final stretch, Turner blocked Jokic for the third time in the game and pushed Jokic’s entries in the Myles High Club to 8 blocked attempts by Turner in his career.
While Turner struggled with foul trouble of his own, he put up 14 points (5 for 11), 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 blocks, and a steal in 26 minutes. A bizarre small-sample size stat that continues is Myles Turner shooting 0% from deep in losses. He went 0 for 4 in this one including on the game-tying chance as time expired after Jokic’s strange decision to shoot.
4. Tyrese Haliburton trash talking
Tyrese Haliburton continues to look like a potential All-Star this season and had another no big deal 21 points (9 of 15), 12 assists, and 3 steals game. His highlight of the game came with the Pacers down 2 with under a minute left and Jokic guarding him after a switch. Haliburton drove Jokic inside to the elbow then bounced the ball back and with the help of a generous gather stepped back to the 3-point line and drilled the shot. His foot was just on the line so it was only for a tie, but Haliburton let Jokic know he couldn’t guard him after the play.
“No … no … no,” Haliburton appears to say while shaking his head. “You switching that. You switching that.”
“Tyrese had an amazing shot, and if his foot was an inch further back we take the lead and then the whole complexion completely changes,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said of that play. “It’s a game of inches and millimeters. It can be that close.”
Haliburton’s confidence continues to skyrocket as he excels as the leader of this team. His per game averages sit at 21.6 points, 9.9 assists, and 1.8 steals with shooting splits of 50.6/45.3/87.8. Keep talking your stuff, Tyrese.
- Oshae Brissett was a game-high +21 while he was on the court in his 12 minutes. As perhaps the only larger wing on the roster, his very limited role on the team continues to be perplexing.
- Goga Bitadze did not seem prepared to play in this one. He entered the game early in the third quarter and received a pair of great passes from guards but was unable to do anything with either of them. Seemed equally shocked to both get the pass and be in the game in the first place.
- Aaron Nesmith went 0 for 5 from the floor but his defense continues to be a bright spot for a team that struggles on that end. He hustled back for a nice block and added a steal. He had a couple of scoring opportunities that just didn’t quite go his way, an odd call where he wasn’t given free throws on a fast break and his only made shot of the game was wiped away because he stepped out of bounds on his catch before taking a 3.
- These referees were garbage. There were 13 games in the NBA on this night and it seemed very clear that the league does not have enough decent referees to have this many games. Both teams were frustrated with the calls or lack thereof throughout the night. It should have been obvious that they were not up to the task when the initial jump ball was thrown so poorly the first time that they redid it, but he just threw an equally terrible tip before just shrugging his shoulders and moving on. The problem with these refs was just the sheer inconsistency. They’d oscillate between calling even a hint of contact to just letting everything go. Once Jokic received his 5th foul, it was like they felt they needed to balance the scales and started calling about everything on the Pacers. They called 5 fouls on Pacers bigs in the first 4 minutes of the third quarter which really helped the Nuggets, now in the bonus, chip away at that lead with their best player on the bench. Mathurin repeatedly felt that he was fouled and grew increasingly frustrated with one ref in particular. On one play where he finally got to the line after a Nuggets play whacked his harm, the closest ref didn’t blow the whistle and Mathurin gave him a death stare even after a ref far away from the play made the call. I don’t like focusing too much on referees, this section is stupid long, and it’s not the reason they lost the game (some of Jokic’s fouls were questionable as well) but oof this was a rough one for the stripes.
- The Pacers went ice cold from deep in the final quarter making just 2 of 12 shots. They repeatedly got open looks in the corners and just couldn’t knock them down. Make or miss league indeed. In the first 3 quarters, the Pacers made 40% of their triples at 12 of 30.
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