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INDIANAPOLIS – How would Indiana respond to one of the most embarrassing performances in franchise history?

That was the question with the Pacers returning to Bankers Life Fieldhouse this week.

Well, Indiana (35-24) took care of business with a pair of wins, in beating the Hornets and Trailblazers.

Following the, beyond ugly, 46-point loss to the Raptors on Sunday, the Pacers came back home Tuesday and dominated the Charlotte Hornets.

The 119-80 victory marked the second time in NBA history a team lost by 35+ points one night and came back to win by 35 the next game.

With a season-high 35 assists, the Pacers benefited from their finest defensive performance of the season.

Domantas Sabonis led Indiana with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists. T.J. Warren scored 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

On Thursday, Indiana fought back in the second half for a 106-100 victory over the Damian Lillard-less Trailblazers.

After a 13-point second quarter, Indiana was down 6 at halftime.

But a 63-point second half gave the Pacers a second straight win as they now head on their longest road trip of the season.

Sabonis led a balanced scoring effort with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Victor Oladipo returned to the lineup and provided 15 points and 7 rebounds.

A 10-point lead in the closing minutes was trimmed all the way down to 3, but a Myles Turner three-pointer with 9 seconds to go clinched the victory.

The Pacers are now just 1.5 games in back of No. 4 (Miami) and No. 5 (Philadelphia) in the Eastern Conference.

 

Three Things Learned

-Victor’s Best Night? Thursday saw the return of Victor Oladipo after back spasms took him off the floor for two games. Oladipo finished the win over the Trailblazers with 15 points, on 5-of-9 shooting, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 turnovers. On paper, it was probably the best night Oladipo has had since his return. While he still didn’t look totally like himself throughout the game, Oladipo did have season-high in two key areas—rebounds (7) and free throw attempts (4-of-5). While Oladipo’s jumper still is inconsistent, and his finishing at the rim goes through expected struggles, he must try to create things off the defensive glass and getting to the foul line.

-Replacing Jeremy Lamb: The devastating injury to Jeremy Lamb opens up about 28 minutes of playing time for the Pacers to sift through in the backcourt. The main beneficiary of Lamb’s loss should go to Aaron Holiday. This is a great opportunity for Holiday to have a consistent role over the final 23 games of the season. If the Pacers want to shorten things, they could just expand the minutes for T.J. McConnell, Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott. But the younger Holiday now has a terrific opportunity to further develop with a rotational spot on a playoff team. This is big for Holiday himself, and for the Pacers, as they try to get a clearer picture on the future for their 2018 first-round pick. 

-Time To Hit The Road: Over the next 3 and a half weeks, the Pacers will play 6 of 7 games on the road. The only home game will come on March 10th against Boston. Big Ten Championships for the men and women will take over Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana has won 3 of 4 since the All-Star break, and have inched closer to that homecourt spot, just 1.5 games in back of No. 4 Miami and No. 5 Philadelphia. It’s not the most daunting road trip by any means, but if the Pacers can finish above .500, they should have an opportunity to be in a serious position for homecourt during the final month of the season (when they take on the Heat twice).

 

Pacers Upcoming Schedule

-at Cavaliers 2/29 (Saturday)

-at Spurs 3/2 (Monday)

-at Bucks 3/4 (Wednesday)

-at Bulls 3/6 (Friday)

-at Mavericks 3/8 (Sunday)