INDIANAPOLIS – Ugly. That would be a good word to describe the Indiana Pacers‘ (37-28) performance on Wednesday night.
Indy was crushed by the Utah Jazz (35-30), trailing for nearly the entire game in a 104-84 loss. Utah has been energized by the return of star center Rudy Gobert, winning 16 of their last 18 games. The victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse also serves as Utah’s ninth consecutive road triumph.
With the loss, the Blue and Gold falls into a tie with the Washington Wizards for the four seed in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.
Indiana actually raced out to a quick 8-2 lead, forcing Utah to call a timeout just over three minutes into the contest. It was all Jazz from that point.
Following the Pacers early outburst, Utah outscored Indy 30-12 to close the first quarter. It was never really close for the rest of the evening. The Jazz led by as many as 16 in the second frame and went into halftime with a ten point edge at 54-44.
Utah quickly pushed their lead back up to 17 points early in period number three, but the Pacers did make a brief run. Indy used a 11-2 run to cut their deficit down to just seven points with 1:38 to play in the quarter, but the Jazz snapped right back. Rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell ripped off five straight points, putting an end to any comeback hopes for the Blue and Gold.
The Jazz led by ten at the start of the fourth and never led Indiana back within single digits. Utah scored the first nine points of the final period and ultimately went in front by a game-high 23 points on their way to a 20-point margin of victory.
Three-point shooting was a big decider in this ballgame. The Pacers shot a dismal 13% (3-for-23) from downtown. Utah wasn’t necessarily great at a 35% clip (11-for-31), but was able to outscore Indy by 24 points from beyond the arc.
Gobert was also rather tough to handle. The seven-footer roasted the Pacers, finishing with a double-double of 23 points and 14 rebounds.
Victor Oladipo was off again for the Blue and Gold. Indiana’s leading scorer shot just 6-for-19 from the field, finishing with 13 points and seven assists. Myles Turner turned in a nice game in defeat, leading the Pacers with 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting.
Trevor Booker, who was signed by Indiana on Saturday, made his debut in Pacers colors on Wednesday. He logged 14 minutes off of the bench, scoring two points and grabbing two offensive rebounds.
Indy will wrap up their three-game homestand with a matchup with the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night. Game time from downtown Indianapolis is slated for 7:00 p.m.