INDIANAPOLIS – In a stretch of 8 straight games against the Western Conference, the Pacers have started off by winning their first two.
On Wednesday night, the Pacers ended the game with 8 straight points to re-take the lead and hold on for a home victory over the Houston Rockets (2-4).
The 114-107 win pushed the Pacers’ record to 6-2.
Indiana was once again led by a career-night from Malcolm Brogdon, with him pouring in a career-best 35 points on 13-of-25 shooting. He added 7 assists and just one turnover in 39 minutes of action.
The real story of Wednesday had to be the Pacers holding the NBA’s leading scorer James Harden to just 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Harden had been averaging 33.0 points per game.
Wednesday’s 4th quarter saw a handful of lead changes, with the Rockets actually leading 107-106 with 2:37 to play. The Pacers closed the game on an 8-0 run, winning their second straight close game to begin the week. The Rockets were 0-for-7 from three-point range in the final quarter.
Domantas Sabonis contributed 22 points and 12 rebounds, recording a double-double for an 8th straight game to start the season.
With Aaron Holiday and Victor Oladipo struggling from the floor (combined 9-of-28), the Pacers received a needed boost from Justin Holiday off the bench. The older Holiday scored a season-high 20 points, shooting 6-of-9 from the field and 3-of-4 from behind the arc.
Indiana attempted a season-low 23 three-pointers, but did get to the foul line 26 times.
Three Things Learned
1. Brogdon’s Hot Start: For a second straight year, Malcolm Brogdon is playing at an All-Star level to begin the season. Brogdon poured in a career-high 35 points on Wednesday night, just two nights after setting a then career-high with 33 points. There’s been no easing Brogdon into this season. He’s playing 37 minutes per game and delivering with consistent, efficient nights. He’s shooting better than 50 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three. After his numbers took a dip last season in having more expectations on his plate, Brogdon looks healthy and has more than delivered. In his last 3 games, Brogdon is averaging 27 points, 5 rebounds and 9 assists while committing a total of 2 turnovers in 125 minutes of action. We talked about Brogdon before the season about his need to be available more and raise his consistency. He’s done that to start the season.
2. Myles’ Rim Protection: More than two weeks into this NBA season, no one is coming close to blocking shots at a higher rate than Myles Turner. In tying a career-high with 8 blocks against the Rockets, Turner is now averaging 4.1 blocks per game. That tops the NBA, with Chris Boucher of Toronto in 2nd at 2.2 blocks per game. Turner’s rim protection on Wednesday was massive in limiting the strong driving ability of guys like John Wall, James Harden and Eric Gordon. Many wondered how the Pacers defense would hold up after losing long-time assistant Dan Burke. But they still have one of the best rim protectors and off ball helpers in the paint.
3. Time To Bench Aaron Holiday? With T.J. Warren’s absence it’s been Aaron Holiday in the starting lineup for 4 games. The younger Holiday has really struggled with his shot, shooting a career-low 37.2 percent from the field and 26.1 percent from three (6-of-23). While Holiday’s ball-handling is a nice bonus into the starting lineup, he’s also a 6-1 guard in there to stretch the floor and make shots at a higher rate. Do the Pacers feel that they need to switch things up with Holiday in the starting lineup? This is a great opportunity for the 2018 first-round pick, and one that might not be there much longer, especially whenever Jeremy Lamb returns from injury.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-Suns (Saturday, 1-9 at 7:00 PM)
-@Kings (Monday, 1-11 at 10:00 PM)
-@Warriors (Tuesday, 1-12 at 10:30 PM)
-@Trailblazers (Thursday, 1-14, at 10:00 PM)
-@Suns (Saturday, 1-16, at 9:00 PM)
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