With PJ Washington absent, James Borrego elected to start Cody Zeller at power forward to combat the Pacers twin towers Domatas Sabonis and Myles Turner. Zeller took the role change in stride by opening the game’s scoring with a drive and finish at the basket. He looked lively on the offensive end, but he was just about the only one. The Hornets laid a bunch of bricks in the first few minutes of the game, connecting on just four of their first 20 shots. The cold shooting allowed the Pacers to go on a 13-0 run and open an early double digit lead. At the end of one, the Hornets trailed 33-20. They connected on just 32% of their field goal attempts and 18.2% of their 3-pointers in the quarter.
The Hornets shooting only got colder in the second quarter, but they mitigated that by gobbling up offensive rebounds. By halftime, the Hornets had rebounded 14 of their own misses. Bismack Biyombo and Cody Zeller combined for 11 of those. The Hornets also went back to the zone defense they’ve used in recent games and found some success with it. The Hornets turned their once 18-point deficit to as little as 10, but a couple Malcolm Brogdon jumpers gave the Pacers a 15-point lead at the half.
The third quarter was an encapsulation of the entire Bulls game from Friday night. Neither team could score despite manufacturing some decent looks for themselves. The teams combined to make five of their first 26 shots of the half before Terry Rozier and Malik Monk made back-to-back buckets for the Hornets. We got the full Malik Monk experience within a two minute stretch. He connected on three straight shot attempts, but followed that by missing a somewhat ill advised 3-pointer and allowing TJ McConnell to blow by him for an uncontested layup. Then he found Cody Zeller with a nice pocket pass for an and-1 layup. A Zeller baby hook a short time later brought the Hornets within four. They went into the fourth quarter only down by six.
The Pacers started the fourth quarter on an 11-4 run, aided in part by some woeful shooting by Devonte’ Graham. He missed a layup, an open 3-pointer, and a pair of free throws during the Pacers mini run. The Pacers lead grew as large as 22 while the Hornets continued their shooting struggles. The Hornets started the quarter 1-of-11 from the field, after which a Justin Holiday dunk signaled James Borrego to call timeout and empty his bench.
Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier had their second straight poor performance. They combined for just 15 points on 4-of-30 shooting, including 3-for-17 from three. Graham alone attempted 14 of those 3-pointers. The Hornets as a team shot 30.8% from the field, 15.6% from three, and 67.6% from the free throw line.
The lone bright spots were the Hornets two centers, who started the game together. Both registered double doubles. Cody Zeller finished with a team high 19 points to go with 12 rebounds. Bismack Biyombo scored 11 points and reeled in a season high 17 rebounds, though he did have his fair share of struggles handling the ball.
The Hornets return home to take on the Kings on Tuesday.