Wesley Matthews Makes Pacers Debut, As Indiana Continues Win Streak
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INDIANAPOLIS – Even a slight step up in competition could not derail the weeklong win streak for the Indiana Pacers.
A 6th straight win from Nate McMillan’s team also came in the Pacers debut for new guard Wesley Matthews.
Monday saw the Pacers (38-19) continue their strong fast opening quarter play as of late, with their bench providing more than enough support for a key second half run in preserving the 99-90 victory over Charlotte (27-29)
The win came thanks to the Pacers holding the Hornets to a season-low 32.2 percent from the field, including 17.5 percent from behind the arc.
Even with the stifling defense, Indiana faced some tense moments late in Monday’s third quarter.
Charlotte out-hustled the Pacers all night long and it led to a 16-point half-time lead dwindling down to just one point with 1:03 to go on the third.
But a Myles Turner three-pointer, with the score 72-71, sparked a 13-0 run for Indiana.
As the Hornets tried to keep things interesting down the stretch, it was the newest Pacer who stepped up late.
Matthews missed his first six shots from the field, but helped ice the game with two late-clock three pointers in the game’s closing minutes.
Even though Matthews’ shooting was off on Monday, you can tell he is going to fit in with his style of play.
The 32-year-old guard finished his debut with 8 points (2-of-10 shooting), 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
“Part of the agreement was that he would start when he came, and we were okay with that,” McMillan said of Matthews after his debut. “We felt that bringing that type of talent to this roster and being able to have a guy like that going down the stretch and possibly in the playoffs with that type of experience, we were going to need it. He went through reps (Sunday) offensively…went through a few sets that we could call for him, some of our basic sets. Defensively, he defends the way we like to defend, so he was familiar with that and he has a good feel for the game.
“He was so excited and so ready to go.”
Myles Turner led Indiana with 18 points and 8 rebounds.
The Pacers’ final game before the All-Star break comes Wednesday, when they host the Milwaukee Bucks, who lead the Eastern Conference at 42-14.
Three Pacers’ Takeaways:
-Fasts Starts Covers Up Hustle Stats: Monday’s start once again set the tone for Indiana. A 20-4 run in the 1st quarter, and a fourth straight opening quarter of at least 30 points, forced Charlotte to play from behind the rest of the way. Now, Nate McMillan was not pleased with how his team defended the defensive glass, and he shouldn’t have been as it helped the Hornets get back into the game. Charlotte feasted on the offensive boards, with 16 more than the Pacers, and those hustle plays showed in fast-break points as well, with the Hornets outscoring the Pacers, 13-2. Charlotte had to have that with such a putrid night from behind the arc. Still, it was Indiana’s early start that established what type of game this was going to be on Monday.
-Trickle Down Of Wesley Matthews’ Presence: Obviously, there are some dominoes that come with Wesley Matthews signing with the Pacers and going immediately into the starting lineup. As Nate McMillan said before Monday’s game: “We didn’t bring Wesley in here to not play. Our young guys, they will go back to their roles.” Aaron Holiday and Edmond Sumner were both out of the rotation on Monday, as Doug McDermott returned on Monday for the first time in 5 games (bruised ribs). Unless injuries occur, it looks like Holiday and Sumner will be hard pressed to find minutes in the final two months of the season. Tyreke Evans slid back into his role with the reserves and had a nice evening. The signing of Matthews helps stabilize the roles for what other Pacers were expecting this season, although the scoring/playmaking production missing from Oladipo is still a group effort.
-Oladipo Speaks: On Monday, we heard from Victor Oladipo for the first time since his season-ending knee injury. For more from Oladipo on his rehab and the injury, head here. After Monday’s win, the Pacers are now 13-8 without Oladipo this season. Although that schedule has been very manageable, you are talking about a sizable chunk of games, nearly 40 percent of the season so far. Being 5 games above .500 without your star player is still very impressive. Credit to Nate McMillan for adjusting twice this season without Oladipo and for the players on the team being ready to absorb more of a scoring burden this season, compared to the 0-7 record without Oladipo last year.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-Bucks (Wednesday, 2/13)
-Pelicans (Friday, 2/22)
-at Washington (Saturday, 2/23)
-at Detroit (Monday, 2/25)