By Josh Cohen
July 6, 2017
ORLANDO – The Indiana Pacers rested Joe Young and T.J. Leaf, the team’s most identifiable players, in their 2017 summer league finale on Thursday.
However, that didn’t prevent the rest of the team’s NBA hopefuls from wrapping up their week with a victory. Jarnell Stokes and Naz Long led the Pacers with 17 points each, while Travis Leslie and Trey McKinney-Jones scored 13 a piece in Indiana’s 89-80 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Every time it seemed the Thunder were about to seize momentum the Pacers responded. McKinney-Jones converted on a crucial AND-1 pull-up jumper with just over a minute remaining and Leslie followed up a missed shot with a putback dunk on Indiana’s ensuing possession to put the finishing touches on the win.
“Our team was tremendous, they really came together,” Pacers summer league coach Popeye Jones said. “They did everything that we asked them to. We wanted to be one of the hardest playing teams here. We wanted to be one of the most physical teams here and then we wanted to play unselfish. And we got all that accomplished this week.”
Semaj Christon led OKC with 21 points. He did most of his damage at the free throw line (10-for-10). His six turnovers were costly, however. Josh Huestis recorded 16 points and Dakari Johnson had 15 for the Thunder, who made just six of their 22 3-point attempts.
OKC’s 2017 first round draft pick, Terrance Ferguson, was ineligible to play throughout the tournament because of FIBA clearance rules.
Indiana did an excellent job on the glass. The Pacers outrebounded the Thunder, 39-26, and had 15 offensive boards. Jordan Loyd pulled down 10 rebounds and Leslie grabbed eight.
Leaf, who the Pacers selected 18th overall in last month’s draft, played in three games and averaged 12.7 points and 6.3 rebounds.
“It was good getting adjusted to the pace and everything,” Leaf said. “It was fun. I’m looking forward to getting in there (the gym). I’m ready to get to work.”