‘He was terrific’: Pacers’ Andrew Nembhard impresses in NBA debut

Andrew Nembhard was a healthy scratch from the lineup in the Indiana Pacers‘ season opener but stepped in and performed on Friday when his number was called.

Nembhard produced 14 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in a 137-134 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. He went 5-of-12 from the field, including 2-of-7 from 3-point range, in a team-high 30 minutes off of the bench.

The Pacers, who trailed by 18 points on Wednesday versus the Washington Wizards, were down by 21 points versus the Spurs. Nembhard was part of a second unit that helped keep the team in the game as the Pacers once again overcame a slow start.

“There are some things to build on like Nembhard’s performance tonight,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “He was terrific. He played like a veteran and that’s great.”

Along with Nembhard, the Pacers received great production from Bennedict Mathurin (26 points, five rebounds), Isaiah Jackson (16 points, six rebounds) and Aaron Nesmith (nine points). The group had a chance to tie the game, but a 3-pointer by Mathurin was short as time expired.

The second unit gave the Pacers a great effort in the loss, and fought until the end. The energy provided was certainly infectious as Carlisle kept them in for much of the game. The team has a next-man-up mantra, and Nembhard embodied that on Friday.

His performance impressed Tyrese Haliburton.

He was awesome. (He played) 30 minutes off the bench. He probably didn’t even know if he was going to play tonight but that’s what we talked about. We’re a young team, guys have to be ready to go. Guys have to be ready to go and he was. He stepped up to the plate, took a big charge down the stretch that I wouldn’t even think to do. He just made a lot of big plays for us. He was really good today.

Following the game, Carlisle hinted that changes could come to the starting lineup. The team recognizes that there is competition up and down the roster for playing time and that could result in some adjustments should its early struggles continue.

Certainly, Nembhard likely proved worthy of a larger role moving forward. He stayed ready when his number was called and that resulted in a strong performance when the Pacers needed it.

Indiana returns to play on Saturday versus the Detroit Pistons.

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Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire