The Indiana Pacers suffered just their second loss of the young NBA season on Monday night at the hands of the Portland Trailblazers. Continuing their road trip, the Pacers looked to rebound on Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz. The key to starting this new win streak was cleaner play, especially in terms of limiting turnovers and fouls.
Now, I’m not crazy. I know that the 15-3 Blazers are a much stronger opponent than the 4-16 Jazz which contributes to the Pacers’ win, but their play was still much more solid on Wednesday night. Monday’s narrow loss in Portland featured 15 Pacer turnovers and 28 total team fouls. With Lance Stephenson fouling out of that game and stars Roy Hibbert, George Hill and Paul George sitting in foul trouble, Head Coach Frank Vogel was forced to play some of his weaker bench players. These hindrances slowed the team down enough to let the Blazers hang on to their late lead.
Monday night was much different as the Pacers nearly halved their turnover total to eight and committed only 17 team fouls en route to a 95-86 win over the Jazz. Despite the fact that Hibbert fouled out, none of his fellow teammates had more than two fouls and the big center did not have to leave the game until the last 40 seconds.
With cleaner and smarter play, the Pacers continue to beat up on lesser teams as Vogel’s squad improved to 17-2, the best record in the NBA. As Indiana continues their road trip with a stop in Texas, the Pacers will need to limit sloppy play even more. Few teams are as consistently fundamental as the San Antonio Spurs so Indiana’s defensive and offensive efficiency will need to be at a high level.