The Indiana Pacers‘ early season struggles continued Saturday night as they dropped their third straight to start the season. The Utah Jazz took care of business on the road with a 97-76 drubbing, led by Derrick Favors’ 18 points.
Utah (2-1) outscored Indiana 50-26 in the paint, exposing , the Pacers’ transitioning front court for the third straight game.
The Jazz also held a 47-34 rebounding advantage.
George Hill scored a team high 17 points for the Pacers, scoring 10 of the team’s 15 points in the fourth quarter. Paul George put up 16 for Indiana.
Indiana was outscored 55-27 in the second half after holding a seven-point halftime lead.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Utah’s post presence late in the game got to his team.
“They hurt us inside in the second half and we weren’t able to capitalize on the other end,” he said. “We didn’t match their physicality, we let them beat us to our spots.”
Newcomers remain optimistic despite rough sailing
Two new Pacers put up double digits as free agent signing Monta Ellis and rookie Myles Turner scored 12 and 10, respectively.
Turner said turnovers and defensive let downs doomed the Pacers.
“It’s something we’re going to get better at, we’re still putting things together,” he said. “I know we’re going to be good.
Ellis said not too much emphasis can be put on the team’s rocky 0-3 start.
“It’s a long season,” he said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board, we’ll do what we need to do to make our adjustments and turn it around.”
Vogel said he’s still optimistic as well.
“We have to make sure everybody stays together and understands we gave a chance to be a good team,” he said.
Former Butler Bulldog Gordon Hayward scored 11 points in his return to Indianapolis. This is his sixth season with the Jazz.
While it wasn’t like his 30-point performance at Bankers Life Fieldhouse last season, Hayward said it felt good to be back and get a win in Indianapolis.
“It’s always nice to pick one up in front of friends and family,” he said.
The Jazz are allowing opponents to score 79.6 points per game in their first three this season. Hayward said he hopes the team will make a habit of playing well defensively.
“It has to be our identity moving forward,” he said. “I think we’re going to be a really solid team defensively this season.
Indianapolis native Trey Lyles also made a return home Saturday. scored two points in four and a half minutes of action.
The Pacers head to Detroit Wednesday to take on an upstart Pistons team. Detroit has won its first three games this season after revamping its roster this offseason, similar to what the Pacers did.
Newcomer Marcus Morris is leading the Pistons with 19.3 points per game, while big man Andre Drummond is taking well to life after Greg Monroe by averaging 18.7 PPG and 16.3 rebounds per game.
The two Central division rivals split last season’s four-game series, with the Pacers taking the final two.
Kyle Beery is the Indiana Pacers Beat Writer for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Indiana Pacers with full media access. You can follow @BeeryK and @IndySportsRep on Twitter.
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