INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. --To close out a two-game series, the Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers faced off on Friday.
The Pacers won the initial matchup on Wednesday with 116-106 being the final score. However, the Hornets got the best of Indiana in the second meeting.
It was a hot start for the Pacers as they knocked down a three-pointer on each of their three initial possessions. Indiana couldn't sustain that momentum but did manage to remain mostly in the lead until their bench personnel checked into the game.
During the final two minutes of the initial period, the Hornets outscored the Pacers by an 11-4 margin -- resulting in a 32-28 lead entering the second frame. Indiana struggled to get stops and lacked direction offensively within this stretch of action.
The Hornets used much of their starting personnel to begin the second frame while the Pacers continued to deploy mostly bench personnel. Indiana's deficit dug deeper and was 43-36 when Myles Turner checked back into the game at the 8:40 mark.
Facing a need to cut into the Hornets' lead after halftime, the Pacers underachieved and ended up getting outscored by five points in the third quarter. Indiana went cold offensively within this period. They scored only 20 points while going 8-of-21 (38.1%) from the field and 1-of-11 (9.1%) from beyond the arc.
A rough third quarter outcome resulted in the Pacers facing an 89-80 disadvantage entering the fourth quarter. The margin for error was quite thin for Indiana at this point and they nearly managed to overcome it, too.
Indiana produced a 9-0 run during an earlier stage of the final frame and trailed just 92-91 with 8:01 left to play. Both teams continued to trade blows down the stretch and the Pacers even managed to take a 103-102 lead with just over a minute remaining.
"I feel like we played good in spurts with a lot of energy," Sabonis said. "We just weren't consistent throughout the game...We didn't get stops or make shots in the final minute."
Almost immediately after the Pacers pulled ahead in the game's final stages, the Hornets converted on a pair of made three-pointers to ultimately ensure victory. Indiana allowed an offensive rebound leading to one of these makes and had a breakdown in transition causing the other.
"We didn't get as many stops as we would have liked to all game long," Turner said. "I think we kind of started off in the first half not really establishing our defense. Rebounding hurt us, too. It seemed like every single time we missed a rebound, they hit a three. Those are big plays."
Indiana's defense failed to execute enough to make up for their shortcomings offensively. Charlotte managed to go 43-of-85 (50.6%) from the field and 16-of-37 (43.2%) from deep.
The Pacers received a lot of support from the top of their scoring hierarchy in this game. Domantas Sabonis (22), Malcolm Brogdon (21), and Myles Turner (20) each managed to reach the 20-point mark. It wasn't enough as the team as a whole struggled to convert from the perimeter.
The Pacers are back in action on Sunday when they take on the Philadelphia 76ers.