The Pacers helped tip off the annual Orlando Summer League, held on the practice court of the Amway Center. Much like the Pacers during the latter part of this past season, they fell behind quickly and were never able to recover. The Brooklyn Nets led the entire way en route to a 101-81 victory Saturday morning.
Pacers guard Donald Sloan led the team with 21 points, nine scored at the free throw line. Reserve Jake Odum was the only other Pacer in double figures, with 10 points. He sank two 3-pointers from the same spot behind the left arc, but was limited to 15 minutes. Center Willie Reed finished with six points, six rebounds and four blocks.
“I gotta be better Pacers and will be next game to lead my group and get us off to a better start and finish that’s unacceptable #fight,” Sloan tweeted postgame.
For the Nets, center Mason Plumlee did was Plumlees do in Summer League action: dominate. He scored a game-high 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting and he pulled down seven rebounds. Of local flavor, Pike product Marquis Teague had 14 points and six assists.
[Related: Pacers’ Summer League Roster and Schedule]
Brooklyn’s start look like this: 15-4, 22-5, 29-11, and stretched to 31, 52-21, at one point.
The Pacers started very slow, and maybe part of that was the early start – 9 a.m. ET, much like their AAU days. They shot shot 27.6 percent, had 14 turnovers and managed just 27 points in the first half. (They scored 29 points in the third quarter.) Out of the break, and after a talk from coach Burke, the Pacers opened half No. 2 on an 8-0 run. They got closer, but never seriously challenged though shots were falling and they were much more aggressive in the second half.
The Nets dominated the inside game, +12 on the glass and they outscored the Pacers 56-18 in the paint.
“I thought they took the fight to us instead of us taking it to them,” said Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke, who is coaching the summer league team. “When you don’t get back on defense, shoot 37 percent, and have 21 turnovers for 31 points, you’re not going to win in any league. The second half we showed a much better fight, we showed we were willing and didn’t quit.”
Keep in mind it was just their first Summer League game and it’s not fair to evaluate after one game. Many have nerves with team execs evaluating every move, and the team has been working together for less than a week.
For the players, it really doesn’t matter which team they are playing on. It’s about performing for every team in the league because they are all watching.
This year’s Summer League play is a bit different for the Pacers because they don’t have a rookie to evaluate. Their first-round pick belonged to Phoenix and without a guy on the board they liked, president Larry Bird opted to send No. 57 to New York for cash considerations.
That meant an even greater focus would be put on Solomon Hill, their 2013 first-round pick out of Arizona. However, he sprained his right ankle during a practice Wednesday night and while he did travel with the team, he didn’t suit up for the game. It’s unclear at this point if he’ll be able to play in at least one of their five games that spans from July 5-11. For a player that needs the up-and-down work and to battle ahead of next year, it’s frustrating and would be a missed opportunity for Hill.
The Pacers don’t have a game Sunday, but they will practice. Next up is Brad Stevens’ Boston Celtics on Monday at 3 p.m.
+ The Pacers started Donald Sloan, Frank Gaines, DeQuan Jones, Kevin Jones, and Willie Reed.
+ Tyler Stone had six fouls in 15 minutes; players can’t foul out in Summer League.
+ Free agent Lavoy Allen, who participated in team camp, will not participate in Summer League games.
+ The Pacers’ contingent in Orlando: Larry Bird, Kevin Pritchard, Peter Dinwiddie, Frank Vogel, Nate McMillan, Popeye Jones, Dan Burke, Ryan Carr, Jimmy Powell, Vance Catlin, Pat Knight, John Gray, Josh Corbeil, Carl Eaton, Hansen Wong, Jhared Simpson, Michael DiBenedetto, Josh Conder, David Benner.
+ No short-sleeve jerseys this year. Teams are wearing practice jerseys with names and numbers ironed on the back.