Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford said pregame the key to his team’s four-game win streak against the Indiana Pacers was Kemba Walker’s mastery of the pick-and-roll.
Apparently the Pacers saw that, too. They double-teamed Walker, particularly in the first half, as aggressively as any team in the NBA does. With Walker cut off from the basket and his teammates, Indiana pulled off a 110-94 victory Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Walker scored a season-low 12 points, missing 12 of his 16 shots. It didn’t help that teammates struggled offensively. Small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist missed eight of his first nine shots and power forward Frank Kaminsky started out 1 of 7.
The Pacers were terrific from 3-point range, making 17 of 36 attempts. Paul George and Myles Turner each scored 22 for Indiana.
Marco Belinelli scored 14 off the bench for the Hornets.
The loss left the Hornets 14-11 overall and 0-2 so far in this five-game road trip. The Hornets will next play the Wizards in Washington on Wednesday night. The Pacers improved to 13-12.
Three who mattered
Myles Turner: The Pacers center’s 3-point range pulled Cody Zeller away from the rim on defense.
Marvin Williams: He was one of the few Hornets who shot well.
Al Jefferson: The ex-Hornet showed off some classic post moves late in the third quarter and early in the fourth.
▪ Pacers starting guard Monta Ellis sat out with a sore groin. Glenn Robinson III started in his place.
▪ Hornets point guard Walker started after suffering a left knee contusion in a collision with LeBron James on Saturday in Cleveland. Walker didn’t appear to have any limitations because of the injury.
▪ This was former Pacers center Roy Hibbert’s first time playing at Bankers Life Fieldhouse since he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers before last season. Hibbert sat out the Lakers-Pacers game in Indianapolis with an injury.
▪ Clifford said before the game a big factor in Kidd-Gilchrist not playing much in fourth quarters is how well Belinelli has played off the bench. Belinelli entered Monday’s game 12th in the NBA in 3-point shooting at 44.6 percent.
▪ Difficult as it’s been for the Hornets to win in Boston or Atlanta, the games in Indianapolis and Washington appeared key to this five-game trip.
▪ Hibbert drew loud boos the first time he touched the ball in the post.
▪ Walker missed his first five shots from the field, with the Pacers double-teaming him aggressively.
▪ Kidd-Gilchrist went scoreless in the first half.
C- OFFENSE: The shooting percentage hovered in the mid- to low-30s much of this game.
C DEFENSE: Good penetration contracted the Hornets’ defense, freeing up Pacers shooters from the 3-point line.
C COACHING: Clifford said he’d accept a 2-3 split on this trip. That now looks like a best-case scenario.