It was another wild contest between the Indiana Pacers and the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night. However, the Blue & Gold came up just short, falling to the Pelicans 114-113.
Trailing by 18 late in the third, Indiana used 10 fourth-quarter 3-pointers to make it a thrilling contest. However, Indiana would come up just short on its final possession. Trailing by one, Myles Turner attempted a layup on the right side through traffic. Unfortunately, the ball fell just short of the mark and into Steven Adams’ arms. Steven Adams got possession and called timeout with 0.5 seconds to go, sealing the win.
Six Indiana players finished in double figures. Justin Holiday finished as the Pacers’ top scorer with 22 points, with 21 coming off seven triples. Jeremy Lamb had 17 and six boards, and Doug McDermott followed with 14. The Pacers finished 20-of-42 (47.6 percent) from beyond the arc. But it just wasn’t enough.
The opening minutes of the game saw a back-and-forth affair featuring eight lead changes. Indiana found most of its offensive success through Lamb. Coming off a rough two-point performance against the Bucks, “Fly Guy” tallied eight of Indiana’s first 10 points of the game.
But New Orleans kept up the pressure, hitting the first eight of nine shots from the floor. At the 6:21 mark, Brandon Ingram broke a 16-all tie with a three from the left corner to push the Pelicans ahead before the first stoppage in play.
From there, the Pelicans found more success by using their big men in the paint. With 4:00 to play, Zion Williamson used his frame and athleticism to spin around Justin Holiday and finish a layup through a foul. Though he missed the free throw, he snagged the long rebound and drove the left baseline. He pushed the Pelicans’ lead to 25-19 on a strong two-handed slam.
But Indiana remained tenacious and finished the quarter strong. The club tightened up on the defensive end, holding New Orleans for a 2:38 scoreless span en route to grabbing a 26-25 lead with 1:23 to play. T.J. McConnell’s patented turnaround jumper with 34.1 seconds to play snagged a 30-27 Pacers lead before the quarter expired.
A 13-4 Pelicans run featuring a pair of triples from NBA veteran JJ Redick pushed the visitors ahead 40-34 with 9:20 remaining in the half. But the Pacers kept on fighting.
Trailing 42-36, Domantas Sabonis finished a tough putback layup in traffic around Williamson to pull within four of the lead. After Lamb blocked Redick’s jumper, McConnell drove the lane and kicked the ball out to a wide-open Doug McDermott on the left baseline. McDermott drilled the triple to cut the deficit to 42-41 with 7:13 to play.
However, they failed to take over the lead. The Pelicans used their length to inflict damage in the paint. A 13-5 New Orleans run saw the visitors grab a 55-46 advantage with 2:34 remaining. All 13 points came from either shots from inside 14 feet or the charity stripe.
Indiana broke a 2:58 scoreless drought as Sabonis knocked in a free throw at the 1:26 mark, but the offense remained relatively stagnant as the half expired. They trailed 57-48 at the break.
Five quick Pacers points thanks to Malcolm Brogdon and Lamb quickly cut the Pelicans lead to 57-53 just 1:08 into the third. However, New Orleans was able to extend its lead to double digits behind a 14-5 run. Brogdon’s step back jumper with 6:18 to play finally stopped the run and cut the Pelicans’ lead to 71-60.
Despite getting quite a few open looks, the Blue & Gold continued to misfire on offense. A McDermott three from the top of the key cut the Pelicans’ lead to 76-63 at the 4:33 mark of the frame. But then, they went scoreless for the next 2:14. Meanwhile, New Orleans stretched its lead to 81-63.
But Indiana finally found their stroke from deep with time winding down. The squad connected on 4-of-5 deep attempts to trim New Orleans lead to a manageable 86-75 heading into the final frame. The most impressive triple came from Goga Bitadze, whose buzzer-beating shot bounced off the front of the rim, then high off the backboard before falling through the net.
Indiana remained on fire from beyond the arc in the fourth. Back-to-back triples from Bitadze and Aaron Holiday cut the Pelicans’ lead to 89-83 with 9:39 to play. Later, threes from Justin Holiday and McConnell, followed by a reverse layup from Bitadze trimmed the deficit to one possession, 94-91, with 7:14 to play.
After the Pelicans threatened to extend the lead for good, the Pacers kept on firing from deep. Trailing 101-96 with 5:17 left, Aaron Holiday nailed a deep 32-foot, 3-point shot. On the ensuing Pelicans possession, his older brother Justin picked off Ball’s pass. He then found a wide-open McDermott on the right wing for the seventh trey of the frame to give Indiana a 102-101 lead with 4:39 to go.
Indiana’s ninth 3-pointer of the frame, a snipe from McDermott, negated Ball’s trey on the other end to knot things up at 110 with 1:54 to go.
Consecutive buckets from Adams and Ingram gave New Orleans a 114-110 lead with 42.6 seconds remaining. However, the Pacers connected on their 10th 3-pointer of the fourth — an arc from Turner — to pull the Pacers to within one with 39.1 ticks left.
On the ensuing Pelicans possession, the defense forced a shot-clock violation. It gave the offense 13.7 seconds for another chance at another improbable victory against New Orleans this season.
However, they would come up just short.
With time winding down, Turner drove the lane hoping to find space. Through contact, Turner gave the ball a chance. But it clinked off the rim into the waiting arms of Adams. Securing the ball, Adams called timeout to seal the win.
The Pacers host Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz on Sunday, Feb. 7 at 1:00 PM ET.