The Indiana Pacers did not get off to a good start to their long Western adventure with their worst offensive game of the season against the Los Angeles Clippers who dominated behind a 30 point, 29 rebound game from center Ivica Zubac.
This isn’t a game that any Pacers fan is going to want to spend too much time thinking about. Just one of those nights in a long NBA season where the team is unable to make anything. The Pacers made just 38% of their shots overall and just 21% from deep. It was a sad, painful watch. A rare sight for a team that has been able to at least make games interesting when they fall behind early even when they weren’t winning many games at the start of the year.
This game was as frustrating as a Pokémon trainer’s trek through Mt. Moon and hitting Zubat encounters every three steps.
Ivica Zubat hit every member of the Pacers with supersonic and they were unable to shake off the confusion of his crossmatches and bruising play inside. They kept hurting themselves with missed open jump shots. Whenever the Pacers forced a miss of their own, Ivica Zubat used Leech Life on each of his offensive boards and putbacks as he sucked the life out of any sorry attempt that the Pacers could muster at momentum yesterday afternoon.
Usually it’s the Pacers lack of wings that doom their defense but in this one they could have used an electric type. No encounters with the rarely sighted Clefairwhi Leonard or Paul Geo(rge)dude as the pair of stars were at their usual spots in street clothes. It didn’t matter Zubat took care of the whole roster. Somehow TJ McConnell managed a few quick attacks that led to fouls on Zubat who finally fainted onto the bench with six fouls.
1) Jalen Smith has a career high and gets out of his slump a bit
The Clippers crossmatched Myles Turner and Jalen Smith because of both Smith’s struggles and Turner’s hot shooting. While they dared Smith to shoot and left him wide open, he was able to break out of his cold spell a bit. But it did the intended effect of keeping Turner out of the play far more often and Turner didn’t do himself any favors by getting into foul trouble in the first half. Smith meanwhile scored 19 of his 23 in the first half and kept the Pacers close.
Credit to Jalen Smith for being a highlight to this one as he scored a career high 23 points (previously he had scored 19 points on five separate occasions) and added 9 rebounds. He made more 3-pointers in this game (3 for 7) than he had in his previous six games combined (2 for 23). He also played very aggressively, didn’t shy away from taking those open looks, and tried to posterize Zubac when he had the opportunity and drew a foul.
We’ll probably see more and more crossmatches as team’s adjust to Turner’s great play and try to take advantage of Smith’s streaky outside shot. It will be fascinating to see how the team continues to adjust from here.
2) Tyrese Haliburton continues to rack up assists
Even in a game where the Pacers couldn’t make anything, Haliburton still managed to find 11 assists in this one. It was his second straight game with zero turnovers and he’s at 26:0 ATO in those pair of games. He, like the rest of the team, missed a ton of shots that he normally hits in this one. Floaters inside, his patient layups that he earns with nice footwork, a beautifully played 3-pointer off of him throwing an inbounds pass and then racing to the corner. So many great looks and so few results. His 15 points took 16 shots to get there and he was unable to get to the free throw line.
3) There’s just nothing else I really want to talk about with this game.
It was bad. Let’s move on. Here’s a list of guys with bad shooting nights: Buddy Hield (3 for 14), Myles Turner (3 for 9), Aaron Nesmith (1 for 7), Isaiah Jackson (1 for 5), Oshae Brissett (0 for 3). Oddly, without Zubac, the Clippers and Pacers game might have been the equivalent of that Colts and Broncos Thursday Night game a few weeks ago. Both teams were completely inept outside of the Croatian big man. Without Zubac’s 14 of 17, the rest of the Clippers roster was 28 for 77 which is good for a whopping 36.3%. They made less 3-pointers than the Pacers managed in this one at 18.8% (6 for 32). Let’s hope this game with the Lakers tonight is more entertaining. We know Bennedict Mathurin is going to be ready for his first matchup with LeBron James and we have the neverending chatter about every good and bad Myles Turner and Buddy Hield game in Lakerland finally reaching its zenith or nadir tonight with the teams facing each other.