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INDIANAPOLIS – Phew.

Playing one of the worst teams in the NBA on Wednesday night, who was also coming off a back-to-back, the Pacers (15-14) survived one of the wilder games of the season for Nate Bjorkgren’s team.

A major defensive shift after halftime, along with a couple of standout individual performances, was the difference for the Pacers in getting this 134-128 overtime victory in Minnesota, after dropping an OT contest on Monday.

Domantas Sabonis produced yet another career night, with 36 points (a career-high), 17 rebounds and 10 assists. That was Sabonis’ 7th career triple-double, which is a Pacers franchise record. It was the first ever 35-15-10 night in team history, too.

Fellow catalyst Malcolm Brogdon knocked home several massive shots down the stretch, ending the night with 32 points on 12-of-22 shooting (6-of-7 from behind the arc).

After allowing a season-high 73 points in the first half to the lowly Timberwolves (7-22), Bjorkgren made a couple of important changes in the second half.

Minnesota struggled a bit more against Indiana switching to a zone defense, which helped the Pacers get back into the game.

Just like Saturday’s comeback win in Atlanta, the 4th quarter spark came from Aaron Holiday. With some help from Jeremy Lamb (18 points), the younger Holiday scored 15 points, with 12 of those coming in the 4th quarter and OT.

Sabonis forced OT with 2 foul shots with 11.1 seconds to go in regulation.

No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards had a game-winning 3-point attempt rim in and out at the buzzer.

Unlike Monday’s OT loss to the Bulls, the Pacers scored the first 5 points of overtime and never looked back.

The Pacers will next take on the Rockets this Saturday, but the availability of Victor Oladipo for Houston is iffy. Oladipo has missed time recently due to a foot injury and the Saturday game is a back-to-back for the Rockets.

 

Three Things Learned

1. Don’t Forget About Aaron Holiday: Rightfully so, Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon deserved the attention above. But make no mistake, this comeback does not happen without the 4th quarter from Aaron Holiday. Down by 10 in the final period, it was Holiday providing an offensive spark. Because of that, Nate Bjorkgren rode the younger Holiday throughout overtime, with the third-year guard finishing Wednesday night with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting. As the Pacers were pleading for someone to help them put game pressure on the young Timberwolves, it was the volatile Holiday showing his ‘good’ side. In road wins lately over the Timberwolves and Hawks, what Holiday has given this team late has been a huge difference in those deficits turning into wins.

2. Spurs Game Cancelled: The second COVID scheduling impact of the season for the Pacers came this week with the Spurs game for Monday (which was supposed to take place in Indiana) being postponed. That means the Pacers will play just 2 games in an 8-day stretch, a far cry from ‘the every other night’ nature this season has in 2020-21. So the Pacers will have some extra time to practice and, more importantly, rest a bit before some important road games to close out the first half of the season. With the amount of minutes and needed production for guys like Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon, this is a nice benefit to get these guys a bit of a break, even if it comes at the expense of a home game.

3. Caris LeVert, T.J. Warren Back With Team: So much talk around the Pacers right now centers around when they will have the services of Caris LeVert (kidney) and/or T.J. Warren (foot). LeVert is doing some shooting in practice right now and the hope is he can get integrated into full practice around the All-Star break (begins March 4th). The thought there is LeVert’s Pacers debut could come early in the second half of the season. The wait for Warren is expected to be longer. Warren is still a ways away from doing heavy physical activity on his injured foot, let alone be involved in practices. His return doesn’t appear to be in the works for much longer. With a pushed back regular season this year, the playoffs are scheduled to start sometime in May, so the spring watch will continue to focus on these guys getting back.

 

Pacers Upcoming Schedule

-@Rockets (Saturday, 2-20, at 8:00 PM)

-Warriors (Wednesday, 2-24, at 7:30 PM)

-@Celtics (Friday, 2-26, at 7:30 PM)

-@Knicks (Saturday, 3-1, at 8:00 PM)

-@76ers (Monday, 3-3, at 7:00 PM)