INDIANAPOLIS – With more fans starting to gather back inside of Bankers Life Fieldhouse this weekend, they witnessed two games go down to the final seconds.
The Pacers (9-7) split their two games, beating the Magic in overtime on Friday (120-118) and losing to the Raptors on Sunday afternoon (107-102).
On Friday, Indiana first needed to execute late just to force overtime.
It was a drive by Domantas Sabonis with 10 seconds remaining that tied the score at 108 and sent the game into OT. That was just the appetizer in the entertainment department. Down 118-117 in overtime, and with the game clock under 5 seconds, Malcolm Brogdon drilled a game-winning three-pointer on an assist from Doug McDermott.
The return of Myles Turner was huge for Indiana on Friday. Not only did Turner score 22 points and grab 9 rebounds, but his defense helped lead to an inefficient night for Orlando big man Nikola Vucevic (10-of-29).
Brogdon led Indiana with 23 points. Jeremy Lamb had 22 points in 28 minutes off the bench.
Sunday afternoon brought plenty of familiar faces into Bankers Life for Nate Bjorkgren.
The Raptors (7-9)—who Bjorkgren was an assistant for the last two seasons—got the best of their former staff member.
Unlike on Friday, when the Pacers had the final second execution, Indiana did not make any of the needed plays late.
Tied at 102 in the final minute, the Pacers allowed an offensive rebound, which turned into free throws for the Raptors to take the lead. On the ensuing possession, Brogdon lost the ball in an insolation play, which led to a shot clock violation. As if that wasn’t enough, Sabonis was blocked twice with the Pacers down three and the game clock ticking under 10 seconds to seal the victory for the vising Raptors.
IU product OG Anunoby had 30 points to lead the Raptors, who were playing without All-Stars Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam.
The Pacers will play the Raptors again on Monday night in Indy.
Three Things Learned
1. Brogdon The Hero, Then The Goat: On Friday, Malcolm Brogdon’s heroics saved the Pacers. On Sunday, Brogdon’s chance to be a hero again, in his worst game of the season, wasn’t in the cards. Down by 1 late in Friday overtime contest with the Magic, Brogdon didn’t hesitate in stepping into the game-winning three-pointer. On Sunday, with the Pacers down 1 with less than 30 seconds to go, Brogdon lost the handle when being guarded by the smaller Fred VanVleet which led to a shot clock violation. Brogdon finished Sunday 5-of-22 from the floor and 1-of-10 from behind the arc. With the Pacers current health situation, late-game situations are almost going to exclusively involve Brogdon and Sabonis. This is somewhat new territory for both guys and definitely something to watch the rest of the season.
2. Settling Rotation: In both games this weekend, the Pacers had a group available to Nate Bjorkgren that in what is the likely group for really the rest of the first half of the season. With Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren not expected back anytime soon, the Pacers should start to be able to settle on a little bit more of a rotation/start defining some roles. Jeremy Lamb has looked pretty solid in his return to action, and he should find a starting spot soon. Yes, Bjorkgren is going to shake some things up rotation wise in the regular season. But an 8-man rotation of Malcolm Brogdon, Justin Holiday, Doug McDermott, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, Aaron Holiday, T.J. McConnell and Jeremy Lamb is going to receive the vast majority, if not all, of the minutes.
3. Loss Of Victor, LeVert: Since trading Victor Oladipo nearly two weeks ago, the Pacers are 2-3. Now, this is by no means some endorsement that Oladipo should have been kept. That’s not it at all. This is just a reminder that the Pacers lost a guy capable of scoring 20 points on a given night (Oladipo), and replaced him with a guy who can do the same thing (Caris LeVert), but he isn’t in the lineup until at least late March. That’s the unfortunate nature of how the return on this trade has played out. The Pacers will now play a large chunk of the regular season without a shooting guard capable of scoring 20 on a given night, and this isn’t even factoring in the loss of T.J. Warren. Getting big nights Myles Turner (23 and 25 points), like the Pacers did this weekend, would be terrific to count on moving forward.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-Raptors (Monday, 1-25, at 7:00 PM)
-@Hornets (Wednesday, 1-27, at 7:00 PM)
-@Hornets (Friday, 1-29, at 7:00 PM)
-76ers (Sunday, 1-31, at 7:00 PM)
-Grizzlies (Tuesday, 2-2, at 7:00 PM)
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