With new addition Pascal Siakam looking comfortable with his new franchise, the Indiana Pacers are close to becoming the team the front office envisioned.
Siakam on Sunday played his 10th game with Indiana since his acquisition from the Toronto Raptors last month and nearly posted his second triple-double in that span by recording 25 points, eight rebounds and nine assists in a 115-99 victory over the Charlotte Hornets that snapped a three-game losing skid.
The Pacers, who will host the Houston Rockets on Tuesday in Indianapolis, have not only been working to get Siakam up to speed but also blend All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton back into the mix after a hamstring injury cost him 10 games. Haliburton, who remains on a minutes restriction, scored 17 points in 20 minutes against the Hornets.
Siakam has averaged 21.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists since joining Indiana.
Syncing multiple moving parts on the fly has served as a midseason challenge for the Pacers, who are seeking to end a three-season playoff drought. Heading into NBA play Monday, Indiana was the sixth-best team in the Eastern Conference.
After enjoying success last week utilizing a breakneck pace on offense, the Rockets were unable to control the tempo against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, falling 111-90 in the opener of a four-game road trip.
While Houston did generate 23 fastbreak points, that wasn’t enough to offset 35.2 percent shooting overall and 19-for-48 shooting in the paint against the Timberwolves’ supersized frontcourt of Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jaden McDaniels.
To run as often as they desire, the Rockets need to rebound and force turnovers. Houston tallied 18 points off 16 turnovers, but 13 of those points came in the second quarter when the Timberwolves committed nine turnovers and Houston erased what had been a 12-point deficit. Add to that the Timberwolves’ plus-17 rebounding advantage, and it becomes clear why the Rockets weren’t able to dictate tempo.