Pacers final score: Mavericks take care of Pacers 127-104

Mar 28, 2023 - 1:31 AM
NBA: Dallas Mavericks at <a href=Indiana Pacers" src="" />
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

A solid start wasn’t enough for the Indiana Pacers as they faded the rest of the way, losing in their return home to the Dallas Mavericks. With five minutes left in the first, Isaiah Jackson put in a basket at the rim after he corralled in three of Indiana’s four offensive rebounds in a single possession to give Indiana a 19-14 lead.

Dallas called a timeout following the play and came out a bit sharper, scoring five straight to tie things up, eventually pushing themselves into the lead at the end of the first 29-27. From there, the Pacers were never able to recover, allowing the Mavericks to go on a 14-2 run to start the second, taking advantage of Indiana’s misses and turnovers.

Indiana wouldn’t get the game back into single digits the rest of the half, but at least got a positive note when Jordan Nwora knocked down a buzzer beater at the end of the half to cut the deficit to 12. Jalen Smith hit a three to open the third, cutting the lead to nine, but the Mavericks again settled things down, scoring eight straight as a response.

Things looked especially dire midway through the third when the Mavs extended their lead to 21, but the Pacers finally found some success from beyond the arc, knocking down four straight threes to cut the lead to 13. On defense, the Pacers struggled to get stops, but appeared in good shape when they trapped Luka Doncic in the corner.

Somehow, Doncic worked himself out of it by whipping the ball across the court to James Hardy, who knocked down a wide open three. It was one of the most impressive passes of the season, completely breaking Indiana’s positive run. Doncic again assisted to Hardy in the corner then scored seven straight himself, suddenly putting the Mavs up big at 97-74.

It was a frustrating third quarter outcome for a Pacers team that had overcome a dreadful second quarter to shoot 56% in the third, including 5-8 from three. Unfortunately, and has been the case in recent games, positives offense hasn’t translated into positive defense as Dallas shot 71%, outscoring Indiana 40-27 in the quarter.

Though Dallas entered tonight on a four game losing streak, it was going to be a tall order for the Pacers to come up with a win regardless, especially with the growing injury report adding Buddy Hield with a non-COVID illness in addition to Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner.

It did provide ample opportunity for Indiana’s rookies, especially, with Bennedict Mathurin leading the way with 26 points, breaking out of a two-game slump since moving into the starting lineup. Unfortunately, he did struggle on the defensive end and with turnovers, committing a team high four.

He did look good knocking down back-to-back triples in the third quarter to help give Indiana their final push in an otherwise dismal night for the team from three. Subtracting the four straight makes, the Pacers were just 4-24 the rest of the night, a bad spot to be against a Dallas team that made 18 of them.

Andrew Nembhard had 17 himself, joining Jalen Smith as the only starters to shoot 50%, Smith scoring 11 with six rebounds. Off the bench, T.J. McConnell led the way with 15 points and seven assists. Isaiah Jackson neared a double double with eight points and 12 rebounds, pulling in nine on the offensive end, and Oshae Brissett did plenty of work getting to the line, scoring 10, going 8-8 from the free throw line.

Any lingering chance the Pacers might’ve had making a play-in push was likely dashed with tonight’s loss, pushing them four games back of Chicago with six to play. On the opposite end of the standings, they do fall back to 12th, again likely temporarily with Washington idle, but are now just a half game up on 13th place Orlando, winners of three straight.

Indiana will be back in action on Wednesday night when they host the Milwaukee Bucks.

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