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INDIANAPOLIS – Friday night was Myles Turner’s turn to show why the Pacers have one of the more unique big man combinations in the entire NBA.
The way Turner did that put a smile on the face of his head coach.
Turner’s game-clinching block—his sixth of the night—put the final touch on the Pacers (6-3) squeaking out a 107-105 road victory over the Bulls (2-7) on Friday night.
Without Turner’s shot blocking on Friday, one game after Domantas Sabonis poured in 30 points on a perfect 12-for-12 night from the field, the Pacers would have headed home with a bad loss to the undermanned Bulls.
“That’s what we want him to do, defend the basket,” McMillan said after his team’s fourth straight road victory of the major off-season focus for Turner.
The final block from Turner came after Darren Collison exacted some revenge by knocking home the eventual game winner.
It was Collison who fouled Bulls guard Antonio Blakeney on a three-point attempt with less than 40 seconds to play, which led to a four-point play and Chicago tying the score at 105.
At the other end of the floor, Collison’s amnesia came through, as he knocked home a long jumper, finishing off a well-executed play design involving Victor Oladipo and Bojan Bogdanovic.
“Our guys just have to make the read,” McMillan said of the Collison jumper. “When we say there are two guys on you, you got to move the ball. Victor did that, he got it out of the double-team. That transporter, which a lot of times is Myles, our five man, in that situation it was Bogey who was wide open. He got the ball over to Darren who was knocking down shots, big shots.
“They executed that play well.”
Oladipo led the Pacers with a very solid night of 25 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists and 0 turnovers. Turner added 18 points and 3 rebounds.
Off the bench, Tyreke Evans delivered 13 points. That scoring was needed with Sabonis coming back to earth with just 9 points on 1-of-4 shooting.
It was the bench that helped the Pacers get back into Friday’s game with the Bulls. Chicago jumped out to a 15-point first quarter lead, before Indiana erased that entire deficit in the second period.
Friday had the feel of a game the Pacers found a way to win many times last season.
After playing 6 of their first 9 games on the road, Indiana will now return home for three straight games.
Three Pacers’ Takeaways:
–Turner Steps Up: Even though Turner had just 3 rebounds in 27 minutes of action on Friday, it might have been his best game of the season. That’s because he tied a career-high with 6 blocks and also had 18 points, on 7-of-10 from the floor. Turner was a perfect 7-of-7 from inside the arc. But it’s the 6 blocks that will help Nate McMillan to sleep easier on Friday night. Defending the rim was a huge focus for the Pacers and Turner this offseason. The fourth-year big man did that on Friday in helping the Pacers get a win that would have been a stain when looking back on things come spring time.
–New Guys Closing: Friday was just the second game the Pacers have played this season with real game pressure on the line late. The other came on Wednesday against the Knicks, when the Pacers made their run late with Cory Joseph and Thaddeus Young in the lineup. On Friday, it was Darren Collison and Myles Turner—the two guys who were on the bench late Wednesday—making the big plays. Certainly, this defines the Pacers’ depth and shows that Nate McMillan is more than comfortable in turning to several different guys down the stretch. That’s what this time of the year is all about in seeing what combinations work late in games.
–Early Road Success: The Indiana Pacers have won 4 straight games on the road. That’s nothing to turn your head out, even if 3 of those wins came against the Eastern Conference bottom feeders. Taking care of business on the road is not a given, but the Pacers have done a very nice job away from home this season (a 4-2 record). Indiana has always been a very good team at home, so any road record close to .500 will lead to this team challenging for some home court in the playoffs.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-Boston (Saturday, 11/3)
-Houston (Monday, 11/5)
-Philadelphia (Wednesday, 11/7)
-at Miami (Friday, 11/9)
-at Houston (Sunday, 11/11)
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