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Nesmith leads six Pacers in double figures as Indiana pulls away from Utah 134-118

Indiana Pacers' Aaron Nesmith (23) puts up a shot against Utah Jazz's Talen Horton-Tucker (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana used its quick pace and 3-point shooters to draw Utah’s defense away from the basket Wednesday night.

Then the Pacers took full advantage of their size.

Aaron Nesmith scored 24 points, Bennedict Mathurin and Myles Turner each added 22 and Indiana finished with 74 points in the paint as it pulled away for a 134-118 victory over the Jazz.

“The offense we play, how fast we play, it can be anybody on any given night,” Nesmith said. “It was just one of those nights.”

For the Pacers, there already have been a lot of entertaining nights this season, and television celebrity David Letterman got to witness this one in person.

The NBA’s highest-scoring team has won three of four and topped 120 points in four straight games. Indiana had six players reach double figures again including Tyrese Haliburton, who had 16 points — all in the second half — and 13 assists. Jalen Smith posted his first double-double of the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Utah was led by Jordan Clarkson, who had a season-high 33 points. Lauri Markkanen added 24 points and nine rebounds for the Jazz, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 0-5 on the road.

But the loss was only part of Utah’s story.

Before the game, the Jazz announced starting center Walker Kessler, a first-team all-rookie selection last season, will miss at least two weeks because of an injured left elbow. Doctors recommended Kessler avoid all contact until he is re-evaluated at the end of the rest period, team officials said.

To compensate, first-year coach Will Hardy went with a three-guard lineup, giving two — rookie Keyonte George and Ochai Agbaji — their first starts of the season.

While George had seven points and nine assists, things didn’t work out as Hardy expected.

“I thought we started the game well, helping our teammate who was guarding the ball,” Hardy said after Indiana made 13 3-pointers. “Then as the game went on, I thought the threat of the 3-point shot impacted our defense and we started creeping out closer and closer to our own man. We left teammates on an island and the Pacers started throwing it inside.”

Utah’s mistakes allowed Indiana to do pretty much anything it wanted offensively.

Turner dominated the middle with a 20-point first half, helping the Pacers erase an early 10-point deficit in taking a 67-60 halftime lead.

It was even worse over the final 13 minutes. Indiana scored the final six points of the third quarter to take a 101-98 lead and extended the margin to 120-106 with 5:49 to play. That was it for the Jazz.

“Pretty much like I said, teammates just found me in the right spot,” Nesmith said. “And it’s the offense we play all the time. I just took advantage.”


Jazz: Finish a four-game trip Friday at Memphis.

Pacers: Head to Philadelphia for back-to-back games Sunday and Tuesday.