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INDIANAPOLIS – Life without Victor Oladipo was very difficult for the Indiana Pacers last season.

On Monday night, the Pacers made it look very easy, even though their All-Star was in street clothes.

With Oladipo (sore knee) sidelined for first time this season, Indiana (11-6) looked rather flawless on the offensive end of the floor, moving the ball around for a season-high 35 assists and involving 9 guys who scored at least 7 points each.

The 121-94 victory over the Jazz (8-9) concluded a three-game home winning streak, where Oladipo scored just 10 combined points.

“We didn’t win a game without Victor last season,” Nate McMillan said of his team’s 0-7 mark without Oladipo last year. “Injuries are going to happen during the course of the season and you have to adapt to that. (Monday), they stepped in, as a team they played solid. You’ve just got to find a way to go out there and get it done.”

The normally stoic McMillan couldn’t help but smile when talking about his team’s ball movement on Monday.

It led to 35 assists on 49 field goals, including assisting on the first 12 field goals of the game, producing a 25-6 run in the first quarter which gave them a lead that never dwindled to less than 6 points the rest of the way.

“When I’ve been talking about ball movement and getting everyone involved, this is what we are talking about,” McMillan said after the Pacers moved to 11-6 on the season. “They executed the game plan perfectly. We needed to get pressure on Utah to disrupt their timing. I thought we did do that and then we got out and played at the tempo we wanted to play at.”

The Pacers’ bench was outstanding, scoring 59 points on 61.1 percent shooting.

The reserves were led by a familiar face in Domantas Sabonis (19 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists) and a newcomer to the rotation with rookie Aaron Holiday (19 points and 7 rebounds) providing a nice scoring burst for a second straight game. McMillan said after the win that Holiday has shown signs of possibly earning more frequent minutes, even when Oladipo does return to action.

Sabonis and Holiday were particularly impressive in the second half as the Pacers stretched their lead.

The 27-point victory had Oladipo doing a lot of celebrating and dancing from the bench as the Pacers won by their second largest margin of the season.

 

Three Pacers’ Takeaways:

Pristine Ball Movement: Nate McMillan loved the assist number his team put up on Monday night. Without Victor Oladipo, the Pacers needed to find offense via constant ball movement. They accomplished that by tying a season-high with 36 assists on 49 field goals. Indiana had 12 assists on its first 12 field goals on Monday. When Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis finish a night with 13 combined assists, you know it’s a good evening of ball movement. Tyreke Evans, who received the start for Oladipo, got things started early with 4 opening-quarter assists, and the Pacers kept the ball moving from there. It was a big reason why they scored their most points at home since Oct. 20.

Some Credit For Bojan Bogdanovic: What a great acquisition Bojan Bogdanovic has been in his two seasons with the Pacers. Bogey is having another really good season here early on. He added to that on Monday, scoring 21 points and pacing the starters without Oladipo. Bogdanovic is averaging a career-high 14.8 points per game, while also shooting a career-best 52.3 percent from the field. His 52.2 percent clip from three ranks 2nd in the NBA. It was a false perception to think Bogdanovic was just a standstill three-point shooter. He’s debunked that notion.

Playing Without Oladipo: In 7 games last season without Oladipo, the Pacers were winless and were outscored by 12 points per game. They are now 1-0, with a 27-point victory, without Oladipo this season. Preparing for possible life with Oladipo sidelined (or limited) was a focus for the Pacers this offseason and a reason why Tyreke Evans was a big priority in the summer. As far as Oladipo’s current knee situation, the Pacers are being cautious with their star, who left Saturday’s win over the Hawks after just 4 minutes of action. Indiana doesn’t want Oladipo to miss 4 or 5 straight games like he did last year around the New Year, with the same knee irritation. Nate McMillan said the Pacers haven’t made a decision yet on whether Oladipo will travel to Charlotte for Wednesday’s game with the Hornets.

 

Pacers Upcoming Schedule

-at Charlotte (Wednesday, 11/21)

-San Antonio (Friday, 11/23)

-at Utah (Monday, 11/26)

-at Phoenix (Tuesday, 11/27)

-at Lakers (Thursday, 11/29)