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INDIANAPOLIS – It took two weeks into the 2018-19 season, but the Indiana Pacers handled their first late-game pressure situation nearly flawlessly on Wednesday night.
Domantas Sabonis kept the Pacers in it on Wednesday and Victor Oladipo overcame bronchitis to make some All-Star caliber players down the stretch.
Indiana’s 107-101 victory over the Knicks (2-6) came after the Pacers (5-3) were down 4 points with less than 5 minutes to play on Wednesday.
Trailing 95-91 with 4:25 to play, the Pacers were facing their first back-to-back losses of the season.
The late-game run started with a Bojan Bogdanovic three pointer. Sabonis then scored or assisted on 4 of the next 6 Pacers’ points, with an Oladipo steal and dunk giving Indiana a 100-97 lead.
With the Knicks still down just one possession, Oladipo showed the national television audience that he has some late-game moxie.
Oladipo hit a pair of three pointers in the final 90 seconds, both coming with the Knicks down just one possession.
After scoring just 5 points in the first half, Oladipo overcame an under the weather night to pour in 19 points in the second half and make some massive plays late for the Pacers’ win.
Sabonis’ performance on Wednesday will go down as one of the more impressive scoring performances this franchise has ever seen.
Despite battling foul trouble all night, and playing just 21 minutes, Sabonis scored 30 points and didn’t miss a shot from the field (12-of-12 from the field). Sabonis added 9 rebounds before fouling out with 1:17 to go in the game.
“Domantas played phenomenal,” Oladipo said after the Pacers moved to 5-3 on the year. “He carried us the entire game, other guys stepped up and made big shots during the course of the game.”
Throughout the first three and a half quarters on Wednesday, Sabonis was the only Pacer offering consistent scoring to stay within the Knicks and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 37 points.
Indiana won on Wednesday despite going 6-of-20 (30 percent) from three and 11-of-17 (64.7 percent) from the foul line. Outscoring the Knicks by 32 points in the paint was the major reason why the Pacers won their third straight road game.
Three Pacers’ Takeaways:
–Sabonis’ Historic Night: There’s so many wild things about the night Domantas Sabonis had on Wednesday. He scored 30 points off the bench. He did it in just 21 minutes on the floor. He didn’t miss a shot from the field, going 12-of-12. He fouled out in 21 minutes. And he also committed 6 turnovers in just 21 minutes of action. Going 12-of-12 from the floor is the most impressive. Yes, nearly all of Sabonis’ buckets came within a few feet of the rim. But finishing in traffic and doing it at the highest efficiency level possible is something that cannot not be taken for granted. Without Sabonis scoring 15 first-half points, the Pacers could have been playing catch up much earlier in the game. Wednesday night is why Nate McMillan said before the start of the season, ‘We need Domas on the floor.’ Sabonis is too skilled and too productive not to have out there. On Wednesday, Sabonis became the 18th player in NBA history to finish a game going at least 12-of-12 or better.
–Clutch Down The Stretch: The highlights will show Victor Oladipo’s huge shots down the stretch. But there were others stepping up in Indiana’s first single-digit outcome of the season. You had Cory Joseph on the floor late providing key defense and assists. Thad Young was doing Thad Young things, keeping plays alive—rebounding an air ball and then finding Oladipo for the game-clinching three pointer. Bojan Bogdanovic hit a three pointer out of a timeout to start the 16-6 rally to finish the game. Nate McMillan went with this combination late and that group made the necessary plays to beat the depleted Knicks.
–Shooting Concerns Still There From The Foul Line: Going 30 percent from behind the arc and 64 percent from the foul line is no recipe for sustained success. Yet, the Pacers overcame that on Wednesday with a dominant performance in the paint. But the foul shooting, in particular, remains a major issue for this team after 8 games. Indiana came into Wednesday 28th in the NBA at the basic aspect of the game that is foul shooting. An 11-of-17 effort against the Knicks won’t help things at all. Now, the three-point shooting has not been a problem for the Pacers this season from a percentage standpoint. But the Knicks outscored the Pacers by 18 points from behind the arc on Wednesday. That’s a dangerous slope to go down on a nightly basis.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-at Chicago (Friday, 11/2)
-Boston (Saturday, 11/3)
-Houston (Monday, 11/5)
-Philadelphia (Wednesday, 11/7)
-at Miami (Friday, 11/9)