Game Rewind from the Indiana Pacers:
Pacers 98, Hornets 86 (Preseason)
Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 7:00 PM ET at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne
(October 22, 2015) – The Indiana Pacers ended the preseason on a high note, defeating the Charlotte Hornets at Fort Wayne’s Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, 98-86. The victory spoiled the Hornets’ chances at a perfect preseason, as the Hornets had won all seven of their previous exhibition games.
“It was great,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said of the atmosphere in Fort Wayne. “The fans were fantastic. They were really, really into the game. I’m excited that our guys are going to be in really good hands when we send them up here to work with (Mad Ants head coach) Steve Gansey.”
Pacers forward C.J. Miles agreed: “It’s always cool (to play in places like Fort Wayne) because a lot of people don’t get the chance to get down to Indianapolis to see some games. And you come in here, it’s a smaller gym so the atmosphere is always better, it’s like right on top of you…It’s always fun to be able to bring that cheer and to see people’s faces light up, especially the kids.”
Thursday marked the first time in seven years that the Pacers have hosted a preseason game in Fort Wayne. The special exhibition was scheduled in conjunction with the Pacers’ purchase of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA’s Development League.
The game was closely contested for most of the night, with six ties and nine lead changes in the first three quarters. But the Blue & Gold took the lead for good on Paul George’s free throws with 4:52 left in the third quarter, the start of a 10-2 run. Indiana stretched its lead to as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter.
C.J. Miles led the Pacers with 20 points on the evening. Miles scored 11 points in barely over eight minutes in the first quarter, going 2-for-5 from 3-point range over that stretch. He finished the night 6-of-13 from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line, the only player on the Pacers roster to attempt a shot from the charity stripe in the first half.
Sixth man Rodney Stuckey provided the Pacers with a nice spark with his aggressive play off the bench. Stuckey made a conscious effort to get to the rim during his time on the floor and finished with 10 points (all on drives) on 5-of-10 shooting and four assists.
“All 10 of the guys we have out there we want to play with that kind of aggression,” Vogel said. “We want to play with pace, push the tempo, attack, and share. I thought our passing tonight was better than it was against the Bulls (in Tuesday’s loss in Chicago) and as a result, that’s what led to a win.”
Chase Budinger also had a nice night, collecting 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting. The sixth-year swingman buried three triples and had some success running the floor after big defensive plays. He collected two dunks off of steals and another bucket off of an emphatic block by rookie center Myles Turner.
“Coach has been preaching running and getting out, especially off of turnovers and great defensive plays like Myles (made),” Budinger said. “That’s one of my strengths, getting out in transition.”
George added 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists for the Pacers, while Lavoy Allen chipped in eight points and 10 rebounds. Turner had seven points, eight rebounds, and a game-high five blocks.
Rookie Frank Kaminsky led Charlotte with 19 points and six rebounds, though he was just 6-for-15 from the field. Starting point guard Kemba Walker also had 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting, while former Indiana University standout Cody Zeller finished with 11 points and nine rebounds.
The Pacers played without two key players on Thursday. Starting shooting guard Monta Ellis was ruled out with an upper respiratory infection, while backup big man Jordan Hill was sidelined by a sore lower back. Second-year swingman Glenn Robinson III started in Ellis’ place.
The Hornets came into Thursday’s contest with a perfect 7-0 record in the preseason, but elected to rest several key players on the second night of a back-to-back. Head coach Steve Clifford announced pregame that five members of the rotation would be given the night off (Nicolas Batum, Spencer Hawes, Al Jefferson, Jeremy Lin, and Marvin Williams).
The Pacers now have five days off before they open the 2015-16 regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 28 in Toronto. They return home the next night to host the Memphis Grizzlies.
by Wheat Hotchkiss