The Indiana Pacers improved defensively and in transition in the second half and defeated the Charlotte Hornets, 98-86 at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Pacers were led by C.J. Miles with 20 points and three rebounds in 24 minutes. Myles Turner continued his preseason block party with another solid performance with eight rebounds, five blocks, and seven points in 22 minutes.
Frank Vogel mentioned prior to the game that he would adjust the rotations more comparable to how he would for the season and beyond. Vogel also explained that the projected starters and rotation would get more minutes this time around, especially Myles Turner. The exceptions were that Jordan Hill and Monta Ellis missed the game due to mild injury and illness, resulting in Glenn Robinson III and Lavoy Allen getting extended minutes.
Robinson played very adequately in the first half and is starting to show signs of a very good "3-and-D" player. He has the length to guard both wing positions, has the shooting ability at long range, and has explosive athleticism as a bonus. Later in the season, he could possibly carve out a solid rotation spot as he has impressed a bit more this preseason than Solomon Hill.
The Pacers were aided greatly in the first half by C.J.Miles' 17 points but seemed to struggle defensively in transition. As a team, they only shot 37 percent and seemed to struggle closing out on shooters, resulting in open jumpers for Frank Kaminsky and company leading to a first half deficit of 46-44.
The second half brought a much more focused and physical Pacers squad on both ends of the floor. The Pacers closed out on shooters much better and prevented easy makes as they held the Hornets to 38 percent shooting for the game. The Pacers played team basketball, driving towards the rim with aggresiveness and kicking out to open shooters, resulting in 43 percent shooting on 23 assists.
If C.J.Miles was the "star" of the game, then Rodney Stuckey was indeed the X-factor. Frank Vogel had explained that Stuckey would have an increase in usage once the season began, and he definitely delivered on that statement. The ball was put in Stuckey's hands primarily in the second quarter where he did most of his damage inside the paint and drawing contact.
Other contributors for the Pacers tonight were Paul George who had 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists in 23 minutes, Chase Budinger with 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting in 25 minutes, and Rodney Stuckey who had 10 points, four assists, and three rebounds in 23 minutes. As a unit, the Pacers took care of the basketball turning it over only nine times.
Quotes of the Night:
C.J. Miles on playing some minutes at the four position:
"They hate guarding me more than I hate guarding them."
Paul George on playing in front of sold out crowd in Fort Wayne:
"This Feels like home. This is Indiana."
The Pacers open up the NBA season in Canada when they take on the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, October 28th, and have their home opener next Thursday, October 29th, when they host the Memphis Grizzles. The Hornets are also finished with their preseason and will have their season opener on Wednesday against the Miami Heat at 7:30 pm ET in South Beach.