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July 24, 2024

Surging Jazz Continue Hot Streak, Rout Short-Handed Pacers 132-105

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Jan 16, 2024

The Utah Jazz continued their scorching run of form on Monday night, dismantling an injury-ravaged Indiana Pacers team 132-105 to notch their sixth consecutive victory.

Haliburton-less Pacers No Match For Balanced Jazz Attack

The Pacers have been hit hard recently by the injury bug, playing without their All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton for an extended stretch. His absence was glaringly apparent as Indiana struggled mightily to generate offense against a dialed-in Jazz defense.

Utah was led by the inside-outside duo of Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton, who combined for 55 points on an ultra-efficient 20/30 shooting from the field. Jordan Clarkson added 19 points off the bench while new addition Kelly Olynyk flirted with a triple-double, posting 12 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds.

The Jazz moved the ball expertly all night, racking up 32 assists on 49 made field goals. Their selfless brand of basketball proved too much for an undermanned Pacers squad to handle.

Player Points Rebounds Assists
Lauri Markkanen 31 11 3
Collin Sexton 24 3 7
Jordan Clarkson 19 3 3
Kelly Olynyk 12 8 11

“We’re playing really good basketball right now on both ends of the floor,” said first year Jazz coach Will Hardy after the win. “I love the chemistry this group has developed and we’ve got guys stepping up every single night to help us get these wins.”

Utah now sits at 8th in the Western Conference standings on the back of five straight 130+ point offensive showings. They seem to be gelling at precisely the right time as the race for playoff seeding heats up.

Stotts Calls Out Pacers’ Poor Transition Defense

On the other sideline, Pacers coach Terry Stotts was highly critical of his team’s inability to slow down the Jazz’s transition scoring. Utah tallied 26 fast break points, frequently beating Indiana down the floor for easy baskets after missed shots or turnovers.

“Our transition defense was non-existent at times. When you are undermanned like we are, you have to be sharper executing the little things. We didn’t do that tonight,” Stotts lamented after the loss.

The Pacers also struggled containing Utah around the perimeter, allowing the Jazz to knock down 18 three pointers. Lauri Markkanen did most of the damage from deep, converting six of his eight attempts from beyond the arc.

“Markkanen is a tough cover for any team, but especially for us with the guys we have missing. We needed to show more effort chasing those shooters around screens. We can’t afford those defensive lapses right now if we want to win games,” added Stotts.

Pacers’ Injury Woes Continue To Pile Up

Indiana has dropped six straight contests, struggling to produce consistent offense with their backcourt depth being tested. Alongside the continued absence of Haliburton, the Pacers were also without newly acquired guard Aaron Nesmith on Monday night due to foot soreness. Wing Chris Duarte remains sidelined recovering from ankle surgery.

Injured Player Injury Status
Tyrese Haliburton Knee & Elbow 1-2 weeks
Chris Duarte Ankle 2-4 weeks

Veteran post player Myles Turner did make his return after missing Saturday’s loss to the Hawks with a sore back. He finished with 15 points on 5/7 shooting and swatted 4 shots. However, the Pacers clearly missed having dynamic playmakers available to generate good looks.

“We are really shorthanded, there’s no two ways about it. But we have enough talent still to be more competitive than we showed tonight,” said Turner. “No excuses, we just need more consistency and better effort executing offensively.”

Backup point guard T.J. McConnell tried his best to create offense with 14 points and 5 assists off the bench. But the Pacers had no offensive punch to match Utah’s balanced attack. Indiana will be hoping they can regain some health soon to end this rough patch.

“Obviously we want to get Tyrese [Haliburton] and those guys back as soon as possible. But we have faith in this group…we just need to dig ourselves out of this slump,” said Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith.

What’s Next For Both Teams?

The Jazz will be aiming to extend their winning streak to seven games when they host Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. Meanwhile, the Pacers will look to bounce back against the Minnesota Timberwolves on the same evening.

Utah seems to be finding their identity after an up-and-down first half of the season adjusting to the roster overhaul this past summer. If they can maintain this level of play, they have the talent to make some real noise come playoff time.

For Indiana, their hopes of ending a lengthy postseason drought are slowly fading with each additional injury setback. But there is still time to turn things around once they regain health and continuity. Wednesday’s contest against Minnesota takes on extra importance to avoid falling further down the standings.

Based on the run they are currently on, this Jazz team seems poised to give the top teams in the West all they can handle. Their cohesion and offensive potency was on full display against an overmatched Pacers squad last night.

After dispatching Indiana with ease, the confidence only seems to be growing for this Utah group. And that could spell trouble for the rest of the NBA in the weeks and months ahead.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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