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INDIANAPOLIS – As the Pacers now head out for their first western road trip of the season, they will do having won 4 straight games.
Indiana (27-15) saw some serious game pressure quickly arise late in Friday’s home contest with the Timberwolves, but Malcolm Brogdon once again bailed them out.
A floater by Brogdon with 18 seconds to go, proved to be the game winner, with the Pacers getting the 116-114 victory.
“I’m comfortable with Malcolm handling the ball whether he’s initiating offense or running it,” Nate McMillan said after Brogdon once again made some huge plays late. “Once we’re under a minute, normally we’re involving Malcolm and Domas (Sabonis) in some type of two-man game. Those two have been the guys who have done good things for us this season. We’re going to put the ball in his hands and let him make decisions for us.”
It was Minnesota scoring 7 straight points to tie the game at 114 with 1:48 to go.
With some strong defense, and the floater from Brogdon, the Pacers beat the Timberwolves for the second time in three nights.
The Pacers shot a season-best 56.1 percent from the floor.
T.J. Warren led all scorers with 28 points (11-of-18 from the floor), including 15 in the third quarter.
The bench once again delivered for Indiana, outscoring Minnesota 42-32.
Unlike on Wednesday against Indiana, Minnesota (15-26) did have Karl-Anthony Towns back. KAT led the T-Wolves with 27 points on 9-of-21 shooting
Starting Sunday, the Pacers will play 5 road games over an 8-day period.
Three Things Learned
-Brogdon The Closer: Malcolm Brogdon’s return this week had ‘The President’ up to his hold tricks late in every victory. It was Brogdon, with the ball in his hands, making huge plays to seal those wins. This is a bit new for Brogdon, having to be the guy to make the needed plays late. The Pacers have given Brogdon that responsibility and he’s flourished in that role. Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis are lethal in a two-man game, usually involving a pick and roll. When Victor Oladipo comes back, Brogdon still needs to be the first option late in games, particularly early in the shot clock. He’s been way too reliable in the critical moments to have that responsibility taken away.
-Contrasting Styles: The Pacers and Timberwolves each scored plenty of points on Friday night, but went about it in very different ways. Minnesota outscored Indiana by 27 points from behind the arc (17-of-39 vs. 8-of-24), yet still lost the game. With the Pacers shooting a season-best 56.1 percent from the floor, they relied on higher percentage looks inside the arc to make up for not having the long ball. What Indiana does is an outlier and many will question if that’s the best route to take come playoff time. The Pacers rank dead last in the NBA in three-point attempts (27.5 per game) and second to last in three-point makes (10.1 per game).
-Time To Head West: The Pacers will fly out on Saturday for a 5-game western road trip, over an 8-day period. On this trip, the Pacers will face teams ranked in the following spots out West: 2nd (Nuggets), 4th (Jazz), 10th (Trailblazers), 11th (Suns), 15th (Warriors). If the Pacers can go 3-2 on this trip, that would be a solid week of work, before they then head into the All-Star break with 7 of 8 games at home. While the Pacers will be trying to maintain a good position for homecourt in the playoffs this coming week, Victor Oladipo will be back in Indiana ramping up his rehab for a return on January 29th. Oladipo will get his chance out West in late March, when Indiana takes on the Kings, Clippers and Lakers.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-at Nuggets 1/19 (Sunday)
-at Jazz 1/20 (Monday)
-at Suns 1/22 (Wednesday)
-at Warriors 1/24 (Friday)
-at Trailblazers 1/25 (Sunday)
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