(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – Despite Bennedict Mathurin’s second thirty-point game of the season, the Indiana Pacers (5-6) would fall to the Denver Nuggets (8-3) 122-119 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
After holding opponents under 33 points the last five games, the Indiana Pacers gave up 35 points to the Denver Nuggets in the opening quarter. They were led in scoring by the two-time MVP in Nikola Jokic (10). Indiana’s leading scorer was Tyrese Haliburton with 8 points. The pace was incredible as the two teams combined for 51 shot attempts, which led to Indiana turning the ball over seven times. The deficit for the Pacers was a fortunate eight points.
The second quarter shall be referred to as the Bennedict Mathurin quarter. He poured in a rookie franchise record 18 points for the Pacers with FOUR three-pointers. The 18 points tied Mike Dunleavy Jr. for the most points in a second quarter in franchise history. As a team the Pacers turned the ball over twice and shot a blistering 64% from the floor and 50% beyond the arc. Isaiah Jackson added 7 points for Indiana. After a 43-point quarter, the Pacers found themselves up 70-56 at intermission.
Despite Nikola Jokic being on the floor for 58 seconds because he picked up his FIFTH foul less than a minute into the quarter, the Indiana Pacers lead evaporated from 18 down to 6. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 11 points with Bones Hyland’s 7 points off the bench. Much like the first quarter, the turnover troubles cropped back up for the Pacers by giving the ball away seven times. After 36 minutes of basketball, Indiana would cling onto a 95-89 lead.
The Nuggets third quarter surge would carry over into the fourth quarter where they would take the lead at 106-105 with 7:13 left in the quarter. The quarter did start with Isaiah Jackson soaring to the rafters and electrifying the crowd with an alley-oop dunk from T.J. McConnell.
The Joker would go to work despite his five fouls and score 11 points. Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray would each chip in with 8 points. The game would be tied at 112 with 4:31 to go, but the Pacers would never lead down the stretch. Indiana would tie it once at 117 with 55.2 seconds left, but Jokic would score on the next Denver possession to regain the lead. Haliburton’s 27-foot three pointer did not fall, then Head Coach Rick Carlisle was assessed a technical foul following a foul by Andrew Nembhard with Denver in the bonus. Indiana would find themselves down 122-117. At the very end, Jokic made a critical mistake by taking a shot up three with 8.6 to go, but Myles Turner’s heave at the buzzer would not fall as Denver defeated Indiana 122-119.
TOP PERFORMERS: Bennedict Mathurin (30p), Tyrese Haliburton (21p, 11a, 3s), Myles Turner (14p, 12r, 3b), Isaiah Jackson (17p, 10r), Nikola Jokic (24p, 6a, 4r), Aaron Gordon (18p, 16r, 6a). For tonight’s full box score, click here.
NOTES: Rookie guard Andrew Nembhard made his second consecutive start despite the return of Aaron Nesmith. Mathurin notched is seventh double-double on the season and 18th as a Pacer. Tyrese is still searching for his first triple double as a Pacer. Gordon’s 17 rebounds for Denver tied his career high.
NEXT UP: The four-game homestand concludes on Saturday with the first of three matchups against the Toronto Raptors at 7pm eastern. The Raptors will be on the second night of a back-to-back when they take on the Pacers. The Kroger Pregame show with Pat Boylan will start at 6:30pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan.