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INDIANAPOLIS – The midway point of the 2019-20 season arrived on Wednesday night for the Indiana Pacers.
Playing in Minnesota, the Pacers looked like a team they’ve been for the majority of the first half: getting All-Star caliber efforts from Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon, plus timely plays in the 4th quarter to earn another victory.
This 104-98 victory moved Indiana to 26-15 on the year.
Sabonis led the Pacers with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists. He had 25 of those points in the first half, helping Indiana stay close to the Timberwolves.
Down 5 at half, the Pacers were outstanding on the defensive end in the second half.
The Timberwolves scored just 40 points after halftime, as Brogdon helped take the scoring lead.
Brogdon finished with 21 points and Doug McDermott added 14 points off the bench.
The Pacers shot 51.8 percent from the field, outscoring the Timberwolves 56-46 in the paint.
Similar to Monday’s win over Philadelphia, the Pacers executed tremendously down the stretch to seal the road win.
With the midway point of the season here for Indiana, they are on pace to win 52 games, despite Victor Oladipo missing the entire season.
All-NBA center Karl-Anthony Towns missed his 15th straight game due to a knee injury.
Indianapolis native Jeff Teague had 9 points off the bench for Minnesota. IU product Noah Vonleh added 6 points in 11 minutes.
The Pacers will play the Timberwolves again on Friday, this one coming at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, before going on a 5-game western road trip.
Three Things Learned
-Domantas Sabonis Looks Like An All-Star: In his second game back from a sore knee, Domantas Sabonis showed zero rust. The deserved All-Star was 13-of-17 from the floor for 29 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists. Sabonis poured in 25 in the first half and continued to be this team’s most reliable scorer all season long. A couple of years ago, I thought Sabonis had the talent to become an All-Star in this league. He should get that nod in a few weeks. For a big man who doesn’t need a perimeter jump shot to still be a consistent scorer, Sabonis is as skilled as they come. He does so many things in the half court and impacts the offense in a multitude of ways. We are seeing why Sabonis was a lottery pick back in 2016.
-Pacers Getting Healthier: When the injury report was released prior to Wednesday’s tip, the Pacers had just two names on it: Victor Oladipo (OUT, right knee rehab), Domantas Sabonis (questionable, right knee soreness). Having just 2 names, albeit two very important names, on the injury report is a sight the Pacers haven’t seen much this season. While it’s obviously a great thing for Indiana getting healthier, it’s key for a couple of specific reasons. Victor Oladipo’s re-integration will come with a healthy group, which is important for Nate McMillan settling playing time and the rotation. It also comes at a nice time, with the trade deadline on February 6th, just in case Kevin Pritchard decides to make a move.
-Victor Staying Home Next Week: As the Pacers get ready for their first, and longest, western road trip of the season, Victor Oladipo will stay back in Indiana. Needing more 5-on-5 practice settings to ramp up his stamina and get ready for his January 29th return to game action, Oladipo will likely spend a good amount of time with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. With the Pacers gone for 5 games in 8 days, it’s important for Oladipo to increase his activity and get ready for what will come against the Bulls in less than two weeks. Outside of a Tuesday practice the day before that Chicago game on the 29th, it’s likely Oladipo’s return to the NBA will come despite him having hardly any 5-on-5 practice time against main NBA guys in more than a year.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-at Nuggets 1/19 (Sunday)
-at Jazz 1/20 (Monday)
-at Suns 1/22 (Wednesday)
-at Warriors 1/24 (Friday)