PREVIEW: Scuffling Charlotte Hornets get second crack at Pacers

Jan 27, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball (2) drives in during the first half against the Indiana Pacers at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no telling where the Charlotte Hornets might start their list of concerns when facing the Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers have so many options, with numerous of those already on display this week.

The teams meet Friday night in Charlotte, N.C., just two nights after Indiana picked apart the Hornets in several ways to win 116-106.

“I love this challenge to see the same group on Friday night,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “Can our young team step up and play better?”

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Domantas Sabonis provided a triple-double for the Pacers on Wednesday night, but Doug McDermott (28 points) and Malcolm Brogdon (25) had the team’s top point totals in the game.

Sabonis seems in fine form after sitting out the end of the previous game for what turned out to be a bruised knee.

“I can play,” Sabonis said after his sterling effort. “I would have felt worse if I didn’t play.”

Charlotte might not have an ideal matchup in dealing with Sabonis.

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“He’s playing at an extremely high level,” Borrego said. “They play a lot of offense through him. He’s a handful.”

The Pacers seem relieved that there wasn’t an extensive layoff in order for Sabonis.

“Domantas comes out and plays that way every night,” Pacers swingman Justin Holiday said. “That’s what he does for our team. The impressive part about it is, is how consistent he is in doing it.”

McDermott led the Pacers in scoring for just the second time this season.

“We did a good job offensively taking our time, giving it to the open guy,” Holiday said.

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Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said he likes how the team’s defense helps churn out offensive opportunities in transition.

“They’re so hand-in-hand with that movement,” Bjorkgren said.

The Pacers had too many answers Wednesday night.

“An experienced team got the best of us,” Borrego said.

Indiana has won six of the last seven matchups with the Hornets.

The Hornets have lost six of their past seven games, negating much of the momentum from early January.

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“We always fight to the end,” Hornets guard Malik Monk said. “… It’s easy fixes for the mistakes we make. We’ll watch film, get together. I think we’ll be all right Friday.”

Slow starts have defined the Hornets in many of their recent games.

“We have to be better to start games,” Borrego said. “We’re trying different lineups out there. It wasn’t just the first group. It was the second group as well.”

Friday’s game will mark the second assignment of a three-game homestand for the Hornets, who have a stretch with eight home games in a nine-game span.

“You have to stay with it,” Borrego said. “My belief is over time, it does turn. But it’s not going to happen overnight. You can’t give in.”

Charlotte guard Terry Rozier has scored at least 20 points in consecutive games after a bit of a slide in some previous games. Borrego said Monk might have earned more minutes in the backcourt.

For Indiana, this will be the third time this season that it faces the same team in consecutive games. This is the first such back-to-back taking place on the road for the Pacers.

–Field Level Media