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Pacers send Hornets to another loss, with Sabonis assembling a triple-double

Rick Bonnell
·3 min read

Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis assembled a triple-double Wednesday to lead his team past the Charlotte Hornets 116-106 at Spectrum Center.

The loss was the Hornets’ sixth in the past seven games, dropping them to 7-11.

Sabonis, who was questionable to play with a bruised knee, finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

The Hornets got 20 points from Terry Rozier and 18 from P.J. Washington. Center Cody Zeller finished with 14 rebounds, one short of matching his career high.

Observations off the game:

Hayward attention

The Pacers, who were a suitor of Gordon Hayward when he was a free agent, certainly focused heavy defensive attention on him Wednesday.

Indiana shaded heavily toward Hayward with double-teams to start this game. Hayward still had a productive first half with 12 points off 4-of-7 shooting. But he scored just four points in the second half.

It looked like the clearest attempt in Hayward’s first 18 games as a Hornet to take him away and risk another Charlotte player having a big offensive night as a result.

Zeller a starter again

Zeller made his first start since breaking the ring finger on his left hand in the season-opening loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Zeller played three games off the bench before replacing Bismack Biyombo as starter. His timing looked way off initially, but he was much sharper by the second of two games in Orlando, Florida, on Monday. Biyombo has been averaging 27 minutes per game and that seemed to really stretch the 10-season veteran.

While Biyombo played only five minutes of the first half (missing all three of his shots), it figures that Zeller’s and Biyombo’s minutes won’t be dramatically different the rest of the season. Essentially, they are a tag team at center, with some small-ball assist from P.J. Washington.

A lot less Biz?

Maybe this was a one-game thing, but Biyombo played just nine minutes, as coach James Borrego went some with the small-ball lineup of Washington at center with Miles Bridges at power forward.

Monk back in the rotation

Borrego put in shooting guard Malik Monk in the first half, the first time Monk has played in four games. He played just four minutes against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 16, made a careless mid-court pass in that game that sent him to the bench.

Monk replaced Caleb Martin in a fairly short rotation — nine players, and with only two reserves (Miles Bridges and LaMelo Ball) getting major minutes.

McDaniels to the G-League bubble

The Hornets assigned second-year forward Jalen McDaniels to the G-League Greensboro Swarm, along with rookies Vernon Carey, Nick Richards, Grant Riller and Nate Darling. The Swarm will play a schedule of at least 15 games in a pandemic bubble on Disney’s campus in Florida, similar to how the NBA finished last season.

McDaniels going to the G-League wasn’t a big surprise: After playing in the Hornets’ first seven games, he’d entered only two of the next 10 games for a total of three minutes. Hornets management has had a guideline the past two seasons that if a young guy has little chance of playing in Charlotte, then he belongs with the Swarm getting major minutes.

This season is more complicated with the bubble. It will be harder to shuttle players between the Hornets’ and Swarm’s roster because of travel from Florida and COVID-19 protocols. However, Borrego said pregame it’s not given all five of the assignees will be with the Swarm for the duration.