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INDIANAPOLIS – Talk about a way to start your first western road trip of the season.
The Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz were both without their respective leading scorers (Victor Oladipo and Donovan Mitchell) on Monday night in Utah.
However, watching the Pacers (12-8) operate on Monday night they looked pretty in sync even with Oladipo missing his 4th straight game.
The Pacers never trailed on Monday night, beating the Jazz (9-12) twice in a week, with this score being an eye-popping 121-88 result.
From the outset Monday, Indiana saw its defensive intensity lead to forced turnovers and some early easy baskets for the visiting Pacers.
When the Pacers did have to work their half court offense, Darren Collison bounced back with a very solid game of 11 assists and 0 turnovers. Tyreke Evans also was in bounce-back mode, scoring 14 points in the starting shooting guard position.
Key contributions for the Pacers included just about everyone who saw the floor for significant minutes, with Myles Turner missing only one shot from the field in scoring 16 points.
The bench was important as well, outscoring the Jazz, 62-39.
Even in the games Oladipo has played this season, it’s hard to find a more complete effort than the one Indiana put together on Monday.
Clearly, the Jazz looked like a team on the second night of a back-to-back and without their own star, but the Pacers still brought it on both ends of the floor without the guy who is their best scorer and perimeter defender.
The Pacers have now not lost three straight games since January.
“We talked about that in the (Monday morning team) meeting,” McMillan said of avoiding the three-game losing streak. “That’s kind of a goal for all NBA teams. We had dropped two games. By that third game you want to try and figure it out and get it right and that was a challenge to our guys (Monday) morning that we had dropped two let’s see if we cannot go drop three and try and get this first road win of his four-game trip. Again, they were about business and sharp all night.”
Three Pacers’ Takeaways:
–Dominant Road Effort: I don’t care which NBA team you are playing or what the injury situation is for the opponent—you win by 30-plus points on the road, that’s one hell of a night. Monday’s 33-point road win was the first Pacers’ road victory of at least 30 points in 22 years. Ball movement has been needed without Victor Oladipo and it was on full display in Utah. Indiana dished out 34 assists on 49 field goals against the Jazz. The bench production was outstanding with 4 different guys connecting on at least 5 field goals: Doug McDermott: 21 points, Domantas Sabonis: 13 points, Cory Joseph: 13 points, Aaron Holiday: 12 points. Monday was the best outing we’ve seen from McDermott with the Pacers. The sharpshooter wasn’t afraid to attack the rim on Monday and the Pacers finally got him going, something that has to happen for this team to reach its ceiling.
–Turner Sets First-Half Tone: Was Monday also the best game of the season for Myles Turner? It might have been, with Turner going 7-of-8 from the field with 16 points. Playing against a Utah frontcourt using the incredibly long duo of Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, Turner was key in stretching the floor with his patented mid-range looks. McMillan has been wanting Turner to get back to that strength of his game. Turner showed that off on Monday, going 5-of-5 in the opening half, with several mid-range looks helping the Pacers build a 9-point halftime lead.
–Find A Split: Most coaches would be very content with finding a split on any western road trip. And Nate McMillan should be in that category, too, especially with Victor Oladipo missing at least the first two games of this 4-game trip. Monday was a great start in the Pacers achieving at least a split. Indiana is trying to survive right now without Oladipo. Losing two straight coming into this trip wasn’t ideal at all. But Monday helped that sting big time as the Pacers are now 2-2 without Oladipo this season.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-at Phoenix (Tuesday, 11/27)
-at Lakers (Thursday, 11/29)
-at Kings (Saturday, 12/1)
-Bulls (Tuesday, 12/4)
-at Magic (Friday, 12/7)
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