The Indiana Pacers eliminated the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday by defeating them by 27 points in the first game of the ‘play in’ (repechage) of the Eastern Conference of the NBA, which will play the playoffs against the Celtics or Wizards.
The Hornets, who came to lose by 39 points, were shipwrecked in intensity and defense against an opponent that barely had a couple of starters, until they were overwhelmed by a score of 144-117.
Guard Doug McDermott (21 points) riddled Charlotte from the line of three at the start of the game and Lithuanian power forward Domantas Sabonis took over until he almost reached a triple-double (14 points, 21 rebounds and 9 assists) and secured the triumph of Indiana.
The Hornets, a franchise owned by Michael Jordan, thus add their fifth consecutive season without reaching the playoffs, after finishing in tenth place in the regular season.
The Pacers (9th-ranked) are still alive and will play for the playoffs on Thursday. His rival will be the loser of the other game of the ‘play in’ on Tuesday between the Boston Celtics (7th) and the Washington Wizards (8th).
“We don’t really” have any preferences, Sabonis said. “We have been playing better as a team this month so to be honest I think it depends on us, how strong we are in the next game.”
«Our confidence is the highest of the whole year. It is the perfect moment for us and in a game anything can happen, “said the Indiana star, chosen for the last two All-Star Games.
– Wreck of LaMelo and his Hornets –
Indiana entered the game with much more intensity and hit the inexperienced Hornets first at the hands of McDermott, who in just five minutes had 14 points with 4 triples.
With a basket on the horn of guard Edmond Sumner, Indiana closed a resounding first quarter with a 40-24 advantage to the frustration of the young Hornets coach, James Borrego, who did not know how to make his pupils react.
Point guard LaMelo Ball, a candidate for the Rookie of the Year award, was especially dazed coming to halftime with almost the same turnovers (3) as points (5).
Youngsters like Oshae Brissett (23 points) stood up to the large number of casualties accumulated by the Pacers, who lost forward TJ Warren in January and their defensive mainstay, Myles Turner, in April.
This Tuesday they also suffered the last-minute loss of their scoring guard Caris LeVert, who entered the protocol against the coronavirus and could miss the next matches.
His other two key players, Sabonis and point guard Malcolm Brogdon, also carry injuries. Still Brogdon, who had not played since April 29, also shone with 16 points and 8 assists.
The Pacers did not take their foot off the gas and had a 39-point lead in the fourth quarter, which barely helped players like LaMelo Ball (14 points and 4 assists) or Terry Rozier (16 and 6) to make up their statistics.
In the next game, the Celtics and Wizards were looking for a direct pass to the first round of the playoffs, in which the winner will face the Brooklyn Nets, while the loser will host the Pacers on Thursday.
In the ‘play in’ of the Western conference, the Los Angeles Lakers (7th place) will face the Golden State Warriors (8th) on Wednesday and the loser will face the Memphis Grizzlies (9th) or the San Antonio Spurs (10th) on Friday . (GG) (AFP)