Pacers’ Andrew Nembhard puts up career night in first-ever start

Indiana Pacers rookie Andrew Nembhard earned his first start on Monday versus the New Orleans Pelicans and the 31st pick turned in a career night in the process.

Nembhard produced a season-high 15 points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals in the 129-122 win as the Pacers improved to 5-5 on the season. He finished by shooting 6-of-11 from the field, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, in 33 minutes of work.

With Chris Duarte expected to miss 4-6 weeks with an ankle sprain, Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle turned to Nembhard to fill his place. Nembhard responded with his best game of the season and was effective on both ends of the floor.

Carlisle loved how Nembhard stepped up for the Pacers.

I thought Nembhard did what he does, which is an old-school game with a lot of moxie. He just plays a very mature, sensible and strong all-around game. He has made key plays late in the shot clock I don’t know how many times in the last three or four games. He has got wisdom that is beyond his years. In that starting lineup, my feeling is he can help the entire unit function better.

Nembhard previously came off the bench for the Pacers entering play on Monday. He was viewed as a key player in the second unit and has often earned praise for his level of play in that role. He brought that same ability into the starting lineup and performed well.

Carlisle has previously expressed confidence in Nembhard and has played him in crunchtime on several occasions. He seemingly makes the right plays on a nightly basis and just plays to his strengths and doesn’t force the issue while he is on the court.

He said that ability has been key for him in the early going.

I think playing four years in college allowed me the time to kind of mature, grow my game and understand kind of who I am. I think I do a good job of just playing within myself as well as being aggressive to kind of get loose every so often.

The Pacers have constructed a nice, young core over the past year after opting to retool a bit. Nembhard and sixth pick Bennedict Mathurin have been great additions to a core that also features Myles Turner, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, Duarte and Isaiah Jackson.

The team looks to be on an upward trajectory based on its early start and that has a lot to do with Nembhard and Mathurin. They have earned their playing time and appear to be poised to continue making plays when needed for their team.


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Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire