INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Pacers signed Bruce Brown for his defense.
His scoring punch Wednesday night was an added bonus.
Brown scored 24 points, making a career-high six 3-pointers in his Pacers debut, and Tyrese Haliburton and Andrew Nembhard each finished with double-doubles in a 143-120 rout over Washington, the highest-scoring season-opener in franchise history. The previous mark, 140, came in 2017 against Brooklyn.
And Brown thinks more big scoring nights could be on the way.
“We play fast, everybody’s running,” Brown said. “One time I got open for a 3 because Myles sealed his guy at the rim. Our offense is so random anybody can score the ball and tonight it was me.”
Despite spending the offseason talking about defense, the Pacers started this season by treating NBA commissioner Adam Silver to an incredible offensive display.
Haliburton finished with 20 points and 11 assists, Nembhard had 12 points and 10 assists, and the Pacers were 20 of 43 from 3-point range. Eight players scored in double figures as they fell three 3s short of tying the franchise’s single-game record and two points short of tying the franchise record for most points in a home game.
Brown, a free agent who left the world champion Denver Nuggets and watched them collect their championship rings Tuesday, needed only one half to match his career high for 3-pointers (four).
“It was great, nice seeing them happy and getting the rings. A lot of hard work went into that,” Brown said. “I mean, yeah, I wanted to be there, but I’m happy I’m here.”
For Washington, it was an ugly start to the post-Bradley Beal era.
While the Wizards led 39-34 after one quarter, they fell apart offensively over the final three and couldn’t match Indiana’s speed or tempo over the final three. Kyle Kuzma scored 25 points and Jordan Poole added 18 as Washington started a rebuilding season by going 9 of 24 on 3s.
“There was a little hesitancy, we talked about that,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Watching and waiting, this team specifically is going to make you pay. It’s a strength of theirs. The minute there’s a change of possession, they’re gone so if there’s any hesitation, they make you pay.”
Indiana needed just two quick bursts to swing this game.
The first, an 11-4 run midway through the second quarter, finally pulled the Pacers out of the early deficit and gave them the lead. Then early in the third quarter, they scored nine straight to turn what had been a close game into an 89-72 lead.
Washington spent the rest of the futilely trying to catch up.
Silver stuck around for the game after announcing this season’s All-Star Game would revert to its more traditional 48-minute, East-West format while eliminating target scores. Indianapolis hosts this season’s game Feb. 18. It’s the first time Indy has hosted the game since 1985.
Wizards: Face Memphis in their home opener Saturday.
Pacers: Visit Cleveland on Saturday.
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