INDIANAPOLIS – After a dismal end to the first half of the NBA season, the Pacers have returned from the All-Star break ready to take advantage of a terrific opportunity.
That continued on Monday with the Pacers again thriving in game pressure.
Indiana came back in the final quarter, and then held on for the 116-111 road victory in San Antonio.
For a third straight game, the Pacers finished with their big men together on the floor, and it paid off.
“We had to get back to calm and execute out there,” Nate McMillan said after Indiana lost a 15-point lead from the second half. I thought we got stops defensively and then offensively we settled down and got the ball inside and played from the post and was able to score. We just needed to get back to calm.
“Those are our bigs, that’s our starting unit. We sometimes go with matchups, but (Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis), we’re going to put them out on the floor. They were doing a lot of switching tonight and we wanted to go inside. I thought we had the advantage on the inside and we wanted to play through the post, so we kept both bigs in.”
It was a surprising shootout for two of the NBA’s least likely three-point shooting teams.
The Pacers and Spurs combined to hit 31-of-63 from behind the arc.
San Antonino jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but the Pacers quickly figured out the Spurs zone defense, which was set up higher on the floor than most teams.
A 40-point second quarter was sparked from Doug McDermott and Justin Holiday scoring 25 combined points off the bench.
Looking like his normal self again, Malcolm Brogdon led Indiana with 26 points. T.J. Warren added 23, while offering key defense on DeMar DeRozan.
Victor Oladipo missed Monday’s contest with swelling in his surgically repaired right knee.
The Pacers are now the No. 5 seed in the East (tied with Philadelphia, but currently have the tiebreaker over the 76ers), two games in back of No. 4 Miami.
Indiana has won 4 games in a row, which is tied for the longest streak in the NBA.
Three Things Learned
-Pacers Withstand Shootout: You won’t find many games where the Pacers give up 111 points and still come out victorious. But Monday night was one of those, as two of the least prone perimeter shooting teams in the league combined to go 31-of-63 from behind the arc. It was an incredible shooting display in the first half, with Indiana carving up the San Antonio zone, and the Spurs frequently beating the Pacers off the dribble for drive and kick opportunities. But the Pacers didn’t slow as they got to the foul line 26 times. Indiana shooting 31 three-pointers and attempting 26 foul shots are numbers we are not used to seeing this season.
-More Closing Moments: For a third straight contest, the Pacers faced some game pressure, and handed it tremendously. Whether it was Domantas Sabonis dominating late, Malcolm Brogdon looking like his old self, T.J. Warren bringing it on both ends of the floor or Myles Turner with a timely block, the Pacers needed multiple contributions to cap this victory in San Antonio. Turner’s block at the rim, with the Pacers leading by 3 with 18 seconds to go, was once again the clincher. On a night when the Spurs routinely got into the lane, Turner’s help side presence at the rim was something San Antonio wanted no part of. At times this season, Nate McMillan has elected to keep Turner on the bench in closing games. Turner has been on the floor for the last 3 finishes, making massive plays, on both ends of the floor, in each victory.
-Victor Sits Out With Knee Swelling: In Victor Oladipo’s return to game action, we’ve now seen a trio of injuries for him. The latest was some right knee soreness and swelling which caused him to miss Monday’s contest with the Spurs. Oladipo missed two games last week with back spasms and was listed on the injury report Saturday due to an ankle ailment. Are these sorts of things that surprising? No. But it still is limiting the growth for Oladipo, and this Pacers team. This latest injury, which is in the same knee that was surgically repaired 14 months ago, comes right after Oladipo had probably played his two best games of the season on Thursday and Saturday. There’s no current timetable for how long Oladipo will be out.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-at Bucks 3/4 (Wednesday)
-at Bulls 3/6 (Friday)
-at Mavericks 3/8 (Sunday)
-Celtics 3/10 (Tuesday)
-at 76ers 3/14 (Saturday)
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