INDIANAPOLIS – His name is Timothy John McConnell and he just produced one of the greatest individual performances in the history of the Indiana Pacers.
He also saved his team from losing a 5th straight.
With a perfect 8-of-8 night from the floor in scoring 16 points, dishing out 13 assists and stealing the ball 10 times, McConnell became the first player in NBA history to come off the bench and record a triple-double, with steals.
If it wasn’t for McConnell’s heroics, in both halves, the Pacers certainly lose to the Cavs on Wednesday night. Instead, they recorded a 19-point comeback to steal a 114-111 road win.
From McConnell first checking into the game in the opening quarter, he was a constant pain for the Cavs.
It was the ball pressure from McConnell early and then some important buckets late that led the Pacers to having their four-game losing streak end, in a game Indiana really needed.
Malcolm Brogdon led the Pacers with 29 points on 12-of-15 shooting.
Indiana (16-18) shot 56 percent from the floor and forced 25 turnovers. It was needed with the Cavaliers outrebounding the Pacers by 16.
The Cavs (14-22) built a 19-point lead in the third quarter and actually led by 8 going into the fourth.
But the Pacers eliminated that by the mid-way point of the final period. A three-minute scoring lull for Indiana late looked like the Pacers might not be able to complete the comeback.
However, Justin Holiday knocked down a three with 1:18 to go, off an assist from Domantas Sabonis, which gave Indiana a 108-106 lead. Indiana held on from there.
The Pacers will finish the first half of their 2020-21 schedule on a back-to-back Thursday night at home against the Nuggets.
Three Things Learned
1. Build The Statue: In what I think is the biggest compliment you can give an athlete, I hope that my daughter (and/or future children) play the game of basketball like T.J. McConnell. Effort, passion, IQ—all of it by McConnell was on full display against the Cavs. A triple-double off the bench, with 10 steals, is rarefied air for an NBA player. No player in league history has come off the bench and recorded a triple-double involving steals. McConnell accomplished that on Wednesday. Without him, the Pacers easily lose their 5th straight. Instead, they got a win they so desperately needed with McConnell giving one of the more memorable individual moments in franchise history.
2. Can’t Ignore The Shakiness: Make no mistake, T.J. McConnell saved the Pacers you know what on Wednesday night. Without him, Indiana loses (rather convincingly) to one of the bottom feeders in the East. What we’ve seen from this team lately is nothing that looks like a definite playoff team this season. With the NBA trade deadline in three weeks, a sloppy to start to the second half of the schedule, which is very difficult for Indiana, should bring about some internal questions of the Pacers being buyers or sellers at the deadline. It’s pretty hard to see the Pacers actually admitting to being a ‘seller’ but the question has to be asked, if this team is around a handful of games under .500 with 25-30 games to go.
3. Finish Off The First Half At Home: The Pacers return home on Thursday night to close out the first half of the NBA season. Bankers Life Fieldhouse has not been a kind venue for Nate Bjorkgren. The Pacers are 7-10 at home this season, including 5 straight losses. Denver will be a tough challenge for the Pacers, as they play on a back-to-back. A second straight win for Indiana would do wonders for confidence heading into the week-long break and also be something that this team must flip in the second half of the season—controlling homecourt better. Considering the history of his team, it’s been rather embarrassing to see how poor they’ve played at home. Sure, the lack of fans is contributing to some of that, but it’s not like other teams around the league are having these massive struggles at home. With a win, the Pacers could enter the break in the 6th spot in the East. With a loss, they would be no higher than 9th.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-Nuggets (Thursday, 3-4, at 8:00 PM)