After scoring 140 points — their most in a game in nearly seven years — in a season-opening win over Brooklyn on Wednesday, the Indiana Pacers’ offense figured to take a step back on Friday.
Then came the news that they would be without their franchise center.
Playing without Myles Turner, the Pacers’ offense still held its own, but their defense could not cool down the Portland Trail Blazers (2-0) in a 114-96 loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers (1-1) were dealt a blow a few hours before tipoff, when Turner was diagnosed with a concussion sustained from taking a shot to the neck on Wednesday. The 21-year-old rising star will miss at least two games before being reevaluated. Second-year big man Domantas Sabonis started in his place on Friday.
C.J. McCollum scored 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting as Portland shot 48.9 percent from the field and 47.4 percent from 3-point range to hand Indiana its first loss of the season.
“Obviously we missed Myles,” Pacers guard Victor Oladipo said. “He definitely helps us on both ends of the floor. But stuff like that happens, so it’s next man up.
“I still think we could have played a little better. We missed some shots we normally make and credit them, they played well.”
Neither team led by more than four for most of a back-and-forth first quarter before Portland closed the period with an 8-2 run to open up a 31-25 advantage.
Indiana got a nice boost early in the second quarter from rookie forward TJ Leaf. Leaf, who went scoreless in his NBA debut on Wednesday, knocked down his first three shots (including a 3-pointer) on Friday, racking up seven quick points.
The Blazers, however, seized control midway through the frame, as former Pacers forward Evan Turner scored six points during a 13-3 run that pushed the visitors’ lead to double digits, a margin they maintained for the remainder of the half, taking a 62-52 lead into the break.
Portland guard C.J. McCollum helped the Blazers pull away in the third quarter, scoring 14 points in the frame (including 12 straight to close the period) to give the visitors an 18-point lead heading into the fourth.
Leaf helped Indiana fight back at the start of the final frame, scoring five quick points to trigger a 9-2 run, but Portland responded with seven unanswered points and the Blue & Gold never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Leaf was a bright spot on the evening for the home team, scoring 17 points while going 7-for-11 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.
“I didn’t have the best game (against Brooklyn), but my teammates instilled a lot of confidence in me,” Leaf said. “…I was just trying to take what the defense gave me.”
Oladipo finished with 17 points and six rebounds, but struggled from the field, converting just 5-of-17 shots. Darren Collison added 14 points and Bojan Bogdanovic had 11 in the loss.
All-Star guard Damian Lillard tallied 18 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists for Portland. Turner added 17 points off the bench on 7-of-12 shooting, while Al-Farouq Aminu recorded a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds.
The Pacers will now head to Miami for their first road game of the season on Saturday night at 8:00 PM. While Turner will miss the game, the Heat will also be without their starting center, Hassan Whiteside, who is dealing with a bruised left knee.
Inside the Numbers
Making his first start with the Pacers, Sabonis had three points on 1-of-5 shooting and eight rebounds in 28:57. He started 66 games as rookie with Oklahoma City last season.
After going 6-for-19 from the field and 2-for-9 from 3-point range in the opener, Lance Stephenson again struggled with his shot on Friday. He finished with just four points off the bench on 1-of-5 shooting and missed both of his attempts from beyond the arc.
After forcing the Nets into 20 turnovers on Wednesday, the Pacers weren’t able to replicate that success on Friday. Portland committed just nine giveaways on the evening.
The Blazers outscored Indiana 48-40 inside the paint and by another 15 points from beyond the arc. Portland went 9-for-19 from long range (47.4 percent), while the Pacers were 4-for-18 (22.2 percent).
You Can Quote Me On That
“I thought we had the tempo and we did force misses. 18 fastbreak points is pretty good, but we didn’t get enough stops. When we did get into our offense it was one pass and a shot or sometimes we were facing floaters or tough long two’s.” -Pacers head coach Nate McMillan
“You play a team like Portland, they can really score and they make you work on defense. We just have to keep working, keep getting in the film room, and start buckling down.” -Leaf
“Any time he can come off the bench and do what he did tonight, it’s huge for us because it builds his confidence up.” -Thaddeus Young on Leaf’s performance
“He played real well today. Hopefully it helps his confidence. The sky’s the limit for him. He’s so young.” -Oladipo on Leaf
“C.J., he got going at the end of the third, beginning of the fourth (quarters). It was kind of hard to stop him and he pushed the lead out. But guys kept fighting. That’s the biggest thing. We’re going to be a resilient team all year.” -Young
Stat of the Night
The Pacers took 16 more free throws than Portland, but were unable to take advantage of that discrepancy because they missed 11 of their 33 attempts from the charity stripe.
- Pacers second-round pick Ike Anigbogu made his NBA debut with 2:24 remaining in the fourth quarter.
- The Blazers have now won eight of their last 10 games against Indiana.
- The Pacers and Blazers will meet again on Jan. 18 in Portland.
The Pacers conclude their first back-to-back set of the season on Saturday night in Miami at 8:00 PM ET.
After a three-game road trip, the Pacers will return home to host Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 4:30 PM ET. Find Tickets »