Prideful Pacers make tweaks, hang around and challenge Hawks late in road loss
They trailed by 19, rallied back and contained Trae Young before ultimately losing their 17th game this season by four points or less.
After not having a game for three days, the Pacers were put in a difficult spot this weekend. With the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament taking over Gainbridge Fieldhouse, they were sent on the road.
They played Saturday in San Antonio at 8 p.m. ET, then flew to Atlanta and lost an hour changing timezones. They arrived at the hotel after 2 a.m. ET and lost an hour because of Daylight Saving Time. Then 21 hours after beating the Spurs by 11, they tipped off against the Atlanta Hawks.
“Obviously, didn’t get a ton of sleep,” Tyrese Haliburton said. “Daylight Saving messed everyone up I feel. (Laughs) But it’s just the NBA, back-to-backs and things like that. We still could have won that game, no question. But yeah, obviously that sucked.”
Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle described the situation as “a bit of a raw deal.” Even his pre-game media availability was delayed a half hour … by a train he had to wait to pass on the way over to State Farm Arena.
Last time they were in Atlanta, just over a month ago, it was the day the Pacers agreed to a trade with the Kings for Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson. On that night, they only had eight players available and lost by 21.
The Pacers (23-46) had eight players available once again; that’s been that case for several game and it’s a strange sight. It has an AAU feel to it where the same guys play big minutes. They have to.
“We had that joke coming in to layup lines,” said forward Oshae Brissett. “Running out there with eight people just looks crazy when they’ve got a full roster on the other end. It definitely did feel weird going out there, but after that, we did a great job of playing together and doing what we had to do.”
No Malcolm Brogdon, Chris Duarte, Lance Stephenson or Goga Bitadze. They’re on their 30th different starting lineup of the season and this time, it included Terry Taylor — who didn’t even play the night before.
Once the game started, the two halves were as different as the player availabilities on the rosters. Two-time All-Star Trae Young carved them up and scored 33 of his game-high 47 points in the first half to give the Hawks an 18-point halftime cushion. He was in a groove, splashed in 7 of 9 from range in 17 minutes.
The game was going about as expected and Young, who has scored more than 30 points in all three games against the Pacers this season, was a big reason why.
The Pacers’ defense also wasn’t up to par and they turned it over 10 times while forcing just three turnovers. After the Hawks erupted for 77 points, their highest total for any half this season, the Pacers had to check themselves. They had to look within.
It could be another blowout and because of the circumstances above, you could understand. But they didn’t roll over and give in.
“We came in and talked about it at halftime, said we’ve got to bear down, we’ve got to do some things to disrupt them and get the ball out of Young’s hands,” Carlisle said.
He didn’t scream or rip into the team like you might expect.