Pacers look to improve in several areas in trip to San Antonio
The San Antonio Spurs will bring plenty of offensive momentum to the floor when they host the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, but their trademark defense is still a work in progress as they continue to acclimate eight new players and new star guard DeMar DeRozan into the fold.
The Spurs have already shown they can score. They head home after going 1-1 on their opening road trip of the season, and on the heels of a wild 143-142 overtime win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday.
San Antonio had an 18-point first-quarter lead, gave it up after Los Angeles made an 8-0 run at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime, and then fashioned a 7-0 spurt at the end of OT capped by Patty Mills‘ jumper with seven seconds remaining to outlast the LeBron James-led Lakers.
“It’s always good when you make shots or make an impact,” Mills said. “Other than that shot, it was a team victory. It was a gutsy win. Everyone participated.”
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 37 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan poured in 32 points and had a career-high 14 assists for the Spurs (2-1).
“It’s always fun to play close games and have them be that type of atmosphere, and overly competitive,” Aldridge said. “It was nice to get a close win. It just builds character and makes guys be more confident.”
But the Spurs also allowed the Lakers to shoot 51 percent from the floor and surrendered 74 points in the paint that included 41 fast-break points.
“We’re not disciplined defensively yet,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News. “It’s going to take awhile with a new group, basically.”
The Pacers (2-2) head to the Alamo City after a 101-91 loss Monday at Minnesota despite 20 points each from Victor Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic and 16 from Myles Turner. Oladipo has scored at least 20 points in three straight games.
“Defensively, we didn’t do a good job of stopping them, keeping them in front,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “I thought our offense frustrated us. We didn’t have the focus on the defensive end of the floor. Our shot selection was poor. We didn’t have ball movement. We were taking quick shots and quick contested shots.”
The Pacers had only 18 assists on 36 made field goals, a statistic to which McMillan pays close attention. As offense became more difficult for Indiana, it broke down defensively.
The Pacers made it a two-possession game late in the fourth quarter but then took a series of bad shots that ultimately doomed them.
“We’ve got to help ourselves out there,” Oladipo told the Indianapolis Star. “Little stuff out there we can be better at, especially defensively. We got to realize that’s what we’re going to be known for, getting stops and stuff like that. It’s not going to be perfect. It’s early in the year.”
Indiana went 2-0 against San Antonio last season, the first time the Pacers swept a season series from the Spurs since 1994-95.