Indiana Pacers: 3 Takeaways from blowout loss to Pelicans

Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

The Indiana Pacers headed to New Orleans looking to improve on a two-game winning streak. Without their top two players in Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, this looked like a spot where the plucky Pacers could pull off a win against a Western Conference heavyweight.

However, things did not go as planned.

The Pacers ended up losing in blowout fashion, with the final score of 93-113 reflecting the dominance the Pelicans flexed on the young Pacers squad.

Here are three takeaways from the loss Monday night.

1. Lack of size hurt the Pacers

When the Pelicans roll out both Jaxson Hayes and Jonas Valanciunas, you need some size to counter the two giants. The Pacers, however, had no answer for the duo and were even having Buddy Hield guard Hayes for a portion of the game. Perhaps not the best idea considering the 7-inch height difference between the two.

For the game, the Pelicans outrebounded the Pacers 54-36. It’s very hard to win a game when your team is getting out-boarded like that, and the team needs to show more hustle and ability to box out if they want to win games against bigger teams and impose their style.

2. Pacers promising backcourt duo has a dreadful shooting night.

The Indiana Pacers have a bright future, and Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin are at the forefront of that vision. While both of these young studs look to have great careers, tonight was one to forget. The guards combined for 8-21 shooting on the night, as both struggled to get anything going on the offensive end.

For Haliburton, this seems like a blip on an otherwise steady shooting streak, but December has not been the best month for Mathurin shooting the ball. For the month of, the Pacers rookie has averaged only 13.2 PPG on 36.9 percent shooting from the field and a lowly 24 percent from rainbow country.

3. While the early season surprise was nice, it may be time to shift focus to next season

The Pacers have been a lot more competitive this season than people expected, jumping out to a 10-6 record and getting insane contributions from both Bennedict Mathurin and Myles Turner than no one really expected. However, both of those players’ play has regressed lately, and the team has gone 5-8 in the month of December after tonight’s loss against the Pelicans. Today’s loss added more fuel to the fire that when push comes to shove, the Pacers simply do not have the talent to compete with the upper echelon of NBA teams.

The Indiana Pacers find themselves at a crossroads. They could continue to be competitive and realistically grab a #7-10 seed in the East or embrace the tank for one more season, offload veteran assets, and collect draft capital in preparation for the stacked 2023 NBA draft.

For a team that has been okay with being okay the past decade or two, it would make a lot of sense for them to embrace the tank, get a high draft pick, and build around a promising young core that includes likely first-time All-Star Tyrese Haliburton, promising rookie stand-out Bennedict Mathurin, along with young names like Andrew Nembhard, Chris Duarte, Aaron Nesmith, and Isaiah Jackson.

The Pacers fall to 17-17 on the season, and will return home tomorrow for a game against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. 

Next. Two teams eyeing Turner trade amid contract extension talks. dark