(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – Second half defensive deficiencies prevent the Indiana Pacers (25-34) from ending four game losing streak as the Utah Jazz (29-30) escape Indianapolis with a 123-117 win.
Despite the Pacers being without one of their best defenders in Myles Turner, the Indiana Pacers were able to break their streak of being outscored in the first quarter at four games. The scoring for Indiana started with Tyrese Haliburton draining a three after Collin Sexton turned the ball over after Utah won the tip. The two teams would jockey for the lead with Indiana trailing as much as four points at 23-19. The newly acquired Jordan Nwora quickly got the Pacers ahead by a layup then followed it up with a triple. Nwora’s layup was the beginning of a 12-0 run for the Pacers where he scored seven of those twelve points. After the first twelve minutes of play, Indiana led 33-27 with Aaron Nesmith pacing the team with eight points. Nwora and Bennedict Mathurin each had seven points off the bench. Leading all scorers with nine points was Lauri Markkanen.
The second quarter for Indiana did not resemble the first quarter at all. Despite scoring 18 points in the quarter, the Pacers still shot an effective 42% from the field but missed all five of their three-point attempts. On the other side for Utah, they shot 46% and 25% from distance. What allowed the Jazz to overtake the Pacers lead in the second quarter was rebounding and by forcing turnovers. The Jazz were +8 on the glass in the quarter and forced six Indiana turnovers. Through the first four minutes of the quarter, Indiana scored four points in total. The good news for Indiana was that they were able to hold onto a six-point lead somehow. After being down 39-33, the Jazz would outscore Indiana 12-4 in a five-minute spurt. They would overtake the Indiana lead with 4:02 to go in the quarter courtesy of an Ochai Agbaji three. Utah and Indiana would exchange baskets before the quarter concluded with Utah ahead 53-51. Markkanen was one of two scorers in double figures with 17. Nesmith was the other player in double digits with 12.
Unlike the first quarter where both teams were exchanging baskets and the second quarter that was predominantly dominated by Utah, the second quarter was an offensive showcase by both teams. The two teams combined for 73 points with the point guards for both teams taking over. Jordan Clarkson struggled in the first half going 3/9 but got hot in the third by making four of his five shots (4/4 on threes) including three free throws, adding up to 15 points. Haliburton converted one less shot on the same number of attempts in the first half as Clarkson but made five of his six shots with his only miss being a three (13 points). Neither team went on a huge run during the quarter, but it was just a handful of small runs for Utah that got them ahead 89-88 after three quarters.
During the second quarter, the Indiana Pacers went on a 12-0 run, which was the largest run in the game, but in the Utah Jazz came really close to matching it in the fourth quarter. After a T.J. McConnell fadeaway jump shot, the score was 97-94 and then Utah went on a 11-2 run to go ahead by a dozen. That was the first time either team was able to go ahead by double digits with 5:25 remaining. Coming out of the timeout, the Pacers quickly erased that deficit town to two points in two minutes of play at 110-108. Tyrese Haliburton put the team on his back by scoring nine of the twelve points. Unfortunately for Indiana, they were unable to have a chance to tie or take the lead because the Clarkson, Sexton, and Markkanen would counter with a basket or free throws to ice the game. The final score was 123-117 Jazz.
TOP PERFORMERS: Tyrese Haliburton (30p, 12a, 3s), Bennedict Mathurin (21p), Aaron Nesmith (19p, 6r), Lauri Markkanen (29p 11r), Jordan Clarkson (29p, 6 threes, 3a), Kelly Olynyk (18p, 10r), and Collin Sexton (18p, 6r). For tonight’s full box score, click here.
NOTES: Pacers are now 18-17 in clutch games after being 16-10 in early January and have lost 16 of their last 18 games. Tyrese Haliburton registered his 25th double-double, Lauri Markkanen notched his 22nd double-double, and Kelly Olynyk tallied his second double-double on the season. Jordan Clarkson tied career high in turnovers with seven.
NEXT UP: The final game before the All-Star break for the Indiana Pacers will be at Gainbridge Fieldhouse as the Chicago Bulls come to Indianapolis for the last time this season. The season series is tied at a game a piece with each team winning at home. Indiana won the last meeting 116-110.
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