Getting off to an 18-2 deficit to begin an NBA basketball game is usually not a recipe for success, but the Indiana Pacers overcame that inauspicious start to notch a 117-108 victory over the Houston Rockets on Monday night in the Toyota Center. The fact that the Pacers came out flat early in the game is a concern, but their ability to climb back in the contest and ultimately win the game shows that Indiana is making progress toward being the kind of team they want to be, as detailed by the Indianapolis Star.
Many times when a team gets behind in a game, players try to do too much individually to aid in the comeback attempt. In contrast, the Pacers moved the ball well last night and trusted each other to make the correct plays — the result of which was outscoring the Rockets 115-90 after the horrid start, with an impressive 29 assists. Consistency is always going to be a work in progress, but Indiana showed mental fortitude in this game that bodes well for the remainder of the season.
The NBA trade deadline may have passed, but there are still ways for teams to tweak their rosters going into the final weeks of the regular season. The New Orleans Pelicans waived power forward Terrence Jones a few days ago, as reported by CBS Sports. Jones is now a free agent, and according to Fansided, the Indiana Pacers may consider adding the six-foot-nine frontcourt performer out of the University of Kentucky.
The Pacers could use another power forward due to injuries and lack of performance. Starter Thaddeus Young is now back from his wrist injury, but he is not playing at 100 percent. Lavoy Allen and Kevin Seraphin have had their moments, but neither has stepped up and won the backup power forward job. Terrence Jones is in his fifth year in the NBA and he has been productive, as well as displaying an intense playing style that would aid the Pacers’ bench unit. Indiana should be taking a long look at Jones, but if the team does not sign him, they may have another option on the roster just waiting for a prolonged opportunity.
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Forward/center Rakeem Christmas has been a developmental project for the Indiana Pacers since joining the team in a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015, but with center Al Jefferson out due to an emergency root canal procedure, Christmas has been given some time on the floor in recent games. Christmas has played well since joining the rotation, posting 10 points in 20 minutes against the Houston Rockets, and grabbing seven rebounds in 16 minutes versus the Miami Heat.
It will take more time to see if Rakeem Christmas has enough talent and potential to be a regular contributor in Indiana, but the early returns are very encouraging. Christmas appears to have strong support from his teammates as well, as documented by Vigilant Sports.
“That’s been Rakeem all season long in practice,” said Pacers All-Star Paul George. “Just happy they finally gave the kid a chance. I thought he could’ve helped us a lot earlier.”
“I’ve been waiting on him,” stated swingman Glenn Robinson III. “I think the whole team has been waiting on him to make the move. I don’t know why they don’t play him. He screens, he rebounds. It’s crazy, like signing a dude for (two) years and don’t play him. I’m just happy he did his thing.”
The Indiana Pacers (31-29) are currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, and they face the second-toughest remaining schedule in the East (per PlayoffStatus.com). Moving up in the playoff standings will be a tall order for the Blue and Gold, but an impressive come-from-behind road win over a very good Houston Rockets team should give Pacers fans reason for optimism. If Indiana can sign Terrence Jones, and/or receive continued contributions from Rakeem Christmas, their odds of success will rise even further.
[Featured Image by Max Becherer/AP Images]