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INDIANAPOLIS – Nate McMillan should have his team’s full attention heading into the regular season with a week off until things get real for the Pacers.
McMillan’s starters were outscored by 20-to-25 points in Wednesday’s preseason finale in Chicago, with a 104-89 loss only being trimmed to that margin thanks to the bench players in the final quarter.
It was a sour note to the end of the Pacers’ four-game preseason schedule. The Pacers looked like a team ending a four-game road trip in eight days.
“I’m just disappointed that we were so sloppy,” McMillan said after loss. “We played against a hungry team out there and they got after us. We played like we think you can just flip a switch when the season starts.
“We’ll get it right on the 17th when we do start, but we have to get back to being hungry. We’ve been sloppy in all the preseason games. We’ve had something like 19 to 21 turnovers every game. Our assists are down and we’re just not executing well on offense. We need to be hungrier if we’re going to get better.”
Probably the main positive from Wednesday night was the return of veteran Thaddeus Young to the floor.
A foot injury had sidelined Young for the first three preseason games. Young finished Wednesday with 16 points (8-of-10 shooting) and 10 rebounds.
But Young was the only starter who gave the Pacers anything of substance on the offensive end of the floor.
The team’s other four starters combined to go 11-of-37. Victor Oladipo was just 4-of-15 (1-of-9 inside the arc) with a game-high 7 turnovers.
With the starters struggling, the Pacers were down 34-17 at the end of the first quarter.
Off the bench, Domantas Sabonis continued his strong preseason. Sabonis had 13 points and 9 rebounds in 21 minutes of action.
Rookie Aaron Holiday added 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting (3-of-4 from behind the arc). Backup point guard Cory Joseph (knee) sat out his second straight preseason game.
The offensive execution from the Pacers’ lead guys clearly frustrated McMillan on Wednesday as his team shot just 8 free throws the entire game.
“We have to be much better than we were this preseason – that means at both ends of the floor,” McMillan said. “We’re just not playing connected and executing.
“The few number of free throws shows we’re not attacking and (being) aggressive. We just have to realize that you just can’t flip a switch.”
The Pacers will begin their regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 17, when the Memphis Grizzlies come to Indiana.
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