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The Hornets Were Eliminated From The Playoffs After Getting Destroyed By The Pacers In The Play-In

The Indiana Pacers entered Tuesday evening’s play-in matchup against the Charlotte Hornets facing some uncertainty. Earlier in the day, standout wing Caris LeVert was ruled out due to health and safety protocols, and Indiana had four additional players listed as questionable on the injury report. However, the Pacers established dominance from the outset and they were never challenged on the way to a 144-117 victory over the Charlotte Hornets to stay alive in the playoff hunt.

Indiana began the game with a 20-7 run before the first timeout, with Malcolm Brogdon returning from a 10-game absence with strong play and Doug McDermott getting loose from three-point distance.

McDermott converted four three-pointers in the first quarter, leading the way for the Pacers with 16 points. The Pacers even beat the buzzer with a bucket from Edmond Sumner, pushing the team’s lead to 40-24 as they shot 60 percent from the floor and 50 percent from beyond the arc in the opening frame.

There was a brief moment in which Charlotte threatened, cutting the lead to 52-37 with about five minutes remaining in the first half. On cue, Brogdon generated a three-point play to kick off a 12-4 run from the Pacers.

At the half, Indiana led by a 24-point margin and, while some crazy comebacks have transpired during this bizarre NBA season, the Hornets didn’t have a run in them. The Pacers led by 30-plus points in short order, driving the stake in further with a mind-blowing 108 points through three quarters and essentially removing any doubt as to which team would advance.

As a team, the Pacers shot 55 percent from the floor and 16-for-35 (46 percent) from three-point range in the game, taking advantage of the opportunities provided by spotty Hornets defense. McDermott finished with 21 points, including four three-pointers, and his 20-point first half was key in putting distance between the Pacers and the Hornets.

Domantas Sabonis led the Pacers with 21 rebounds to go along with 14 points and nine assists. From there, Brogdon (16 points, eight assists), TJ McConnell (17 points, four assists), Goga Bitadze (14 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks) and Oshae Brissett (23 points) enjoyed productive evenings to help Indiana secure the victory.

With this defeat, the Hornets will begin their offseason. In general, it was a positive year for Charlotte, especially through the lens of LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Gordon Hayward, the latter of whom did not play in this game due to injury. The future is bright, particularly with Ball in the mix, and that shouldn’t be outweighed by a play-in flop.

As for the Pacers, Indiana’s breezy win puts them in a win-or-go-home scenario on Thursday evening. The Pacers will take on either the Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards with a chance to sneak into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, though Indiana will have to hit the road, making things more difficult for the second game of the play-in.

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