INDIANAPOLIS – No need to worry about any quarantine rust for T.J. Warren.
In one of the greatest performances in Pacers franchise history, Warren carried his shorthanded teammates by pouring in a career-high 53 points in a 127-121 victory over the 76ers on Saturday night.
The 53 points are the 3rd most in the history of the Pacers, and it was very much needed with Indiana missing Domantas Sabonis (foot) and Malcolm Brogdon (neck).
From the onset on Saturday, Warren was in an incredible rhythm.
Warren has been the Pacers’ most consistent offensive weapon this season, but this rare scoring output was at another level.
Not only was Warren’s production vital due to the injuries, it was also necessary with Myles Turner struggling to stay on the floor and Victor Oladipo showing some early rust on Saturday.
Philadelphia had a 10-point lead late in the third quarter, but when Joel Embiid (41 points and 21 rebounds) went to the bench, the Pacers were able to make another push.
Point guards Aaron Holiday and T.J. McConnell combined for 18 assists as the Pacers overcame a quiet third quarter to outscore the 76ers.
Victor Oladipo played 31 minutes, scoring 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting and 2-of-6 behind the arc.
With the win, Indiana has now won the season series over the 76ers (3-1), keeping them in the No. 5 spot of the Eastern Conference with 7 games remaining in the regular season.
After an off day on Sunday, the Pacers will face their lone back-to-back in the regular season finish, with the Wizards on Monday (4:00) and the Magic on Tuesday (6:00).
Three Things Learned
-Historic Performance By T.J. Warren: Guys like T.J. Warren were made to play in a bubble. Warren is a self-motivated guy, who is obsessed with playing the game of basketball. The Pacers didn’t need to worry about Warren staying in shape, or being rusty, when players reported back for work. He’s never played in the playoffs, so you knew he was going to be pretty darn inspired to get back to playing, knowing what lies ahead in a few weeks. Still, no one could could have ever predicted the type of night Warren had on Saturday. Warren scored a career-high 53 points on 20-of-29 shooting. He had 19 points each in the first and fourth quarters, taking on the full scoring responsibility, with Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis sidelined, and Myles Turner exiting early due to foul trouble. Nate McMillan said during the break he wanted Warren to concentrate on his perimeter shooting to help the starting lineup spread the floor. Well, Saturday saw Warren knock down 9-of-12 from behind the arc, with a couple of late daggers to seal the victory. Warren’s effort on Saturday was one of the best this franchise has ever seen. Period.
-Embiid Dominates Turner Again: It doesn’t matter if the games are in Indianapolis, Philadelphia or Orlando, Joel Embiid continues to dominate Myles Turner. Saturday was just another reminder of the defensive class that Turner has not shown the ability to be in. It was a foul on Turner 9 seconds into the game, and then Embiid scoring the first bucket of the game on that same possession. Turner ended up fouling out in 19 minutes as Embiid once again had his way with 41 points and 21 rebounds. Sometimes plus/minus stats can be a bit skewed for individual players, but it wasn’t for Embiid on Saturday. The 76ers was +21 with him on the floor. Turner wants to be known as one of the best defensive players in the NBA. Well, continued efforts like this against Embiid won’t cut it. Good news for Turner and the Pacers? They likely won’t see Embiid and 76ers again this season.
-Malcolm Brogdon Misses With Neck Injury: So all the injury drama around the Pacers starting guards entering Saturday night had Malcolm Brogdon as the one having to sit out. A neck injury that Brogdon suffered in Tuesday’s scrimmage did not allow him to turn his neck enough to be able to play. Nate McMillan said the Pacers are hopeful Brogdon will be ready for Monday’s game against the Wizards. Saturday was the 18th missed game (in 66 contests) for Brogdon this season. Injury issues have plagued Brogdon throughout his young career and he’s had more than a handful of different ailments this season force him to miss time. Without Brogdon, the Pacers had Aaron Holiday start at point, and Justin Holiday start (in place of Domantas Sabonis).
Pacers Regular Season Re-Start Schedule
-Wizards, 8/3 (Monday), 4:00 PM
-Magic, 8/4 (Tuesday), 6:00 PM
-Suns, 8/6 (Thursday), 4:00 PM
-Lakers, 8/8 (Saturday), 6:00 PM
-Heat, 8/10 (Monday), 8:00 PM
-Rockets, 8/12 (Wednesday), 4:00 PM
-Heat, 8/14 (Friday), TBD
Current Eastern Conference Standings
1. Milwaukee (54-12)
2. Toronto (46-18), 7.0 games back
3. Boston (43-22), 10.5 games back
4. Miami (42-24), 12 games back
5. Indiana (40-26), 13.5 games back
6. Philadelphia (39-27), 14.5 games back
7. Orlando (31-35), 23 games back
8. Brooklyn (30-35), 23.5 games back
9. Wizards (24-42), 29.5 games back