INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle spent the first two weeks plugging holes.
On Monday night, he finally found some answers.
Domantas Sabonis finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds and Myles Turner added 19 points to lead the Indiana Pacers past struggling San Antonio 131-118 on Monday night.
It was a welcome change for the Pacers, who snapped a four-game losing streak and won for just the second time in eight games under Carlisle.
“I thought this was the kind of game we needed, the type of game we need to play,” Carlisle said. “I would like not to give up 118 points, but we need to embrace this and keep working to get better.”
Dejounte Murray finished with 16 points and Devin Vassell had 15 to lead San Antonio. The Spurs have lost four of their last five with the only win coming Saturday at defending NBA champion Milwaukee.
But after the opening minutes in Indianapolis, the Spurs never had a chance and coach Greg Popovich was upset his team didn’t put forth a better effort.
“Our worst game of the year,” he said.
Indiana opened the game by going 8 of 10 from 3-point range and taking a 43-31 lead after one quarter. Then, unlike their previous games, the Pacers continued accelerating. By halftime, the Pacers extended the margin to 78-56 and had five players in double figures.
San Antonio couldn’t get closer than 18 until the final few minutes in its most lopsided loss this season.
“We won the third quarter and we hadn’t done that all year,” Carlisle said. “I feel good about this one but we certainly can’t exhale with New York coming in here.”
Spurs: Derrick White had 13 points and seven assists while Jakob Poeltl had 11 points six rebounds. … Murray had six assists and four players scored 10 points. … San Antonio played without forward-center Zach Collins (ankle) and former Pacers guard Doug McDermott (knee). … The Spurs had won their last two games in Indy, but have lost four straight in San Antonio.
Pacers: Despite being without guards Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring), Jeremy Lamb (sprained ankle) and forwards T.J. Warren (foot) and Isaiah Jackson (knee), Indiana still posted season-high scoring totals in the first quarter, first half and third quarter (31). … Turner had eight rebounds and Sabonis had six assits. … Carlisle is now tied with Nate McMillan (183) for the third-most wins in the franchise’s NBA era. Carlisle won 181 games in his first head coaching stint with the Pacers. … Twenty-five service members were sworn into office at halftime of the game.
Indiana had six players score in double figures, including T.J. McConnell, who had 10 points and 10 assists, and five players finished with at least 16 points.
It’s the kind of balance Carlisle expects.
“I thought we attacked well, I thought our shot-making was good and when the ball moves, it tends to go in the basket more,” he said.
It showed. Indiana made a season-best 18 3-pointers and posted season highs in field goal percentage (57.1%) and 3-point percentage (47.4%).
Popovich and Carlisle squared off dozens of times during Carlisle’s 13-year tenure in Dallas, and there’s a mutual respect between two of the three active coaches with the most career wins.
Before the game, Carlisle told reporters that when he took a year off, he visited San Antonio’s training camp at the invitation of Popovich. Just how much does Carlisle think of Popovich?
“Popovich, to me, he’s the greatest of the great,” Carlisle said.
Spurs: Heads home Wednesday to take on Dallas.
Pacers: Finish a three-game homestand Wednesday against New York.