INDIANAPOLIS–Behind Victor Oladipo’s career-high 47 points, the Indiana Pacers made yet another comeback victory against the Denver Nuggets to win in overtime by a final score of 126-116.
The Pacers started the game down 18-6. The Nuggets pushed that lead to 19 with 6:13 remaining in the first half.
It didn’t matter. The Pacers fought back and led at the end of the third quarter 90-88.
The Nuggets led by eight points with just 2:54 left.
It didn’t matter. Oladipo took over the rest of the way, taking advantage of the Nuggets switching defense to get whatever match-up he wanted.
“I was just trying to make the right play down the stretch. There were still some plays where I felt that I could have done a better job. I missed some layups, I missed some threes, missed two free throws, so there’s obviously room to improve. So I just gotta continue to keep getting better and take it one day at a time.”
Putting Oladipo’s humility aside, he was incredible down the stretch as he brought the Pacers back. Starting from 2:39 here’s what Oladipo did possession by possession to get the Pacers into overtime:
2:39: 12-foot pull up. Pacers down six.
1:32: Driving layup. Pacers down four.
0:55.1: Driving layup. Pacers down two.
0:26.6: Missed pull up 3-pointer (almost identical to the shot he hit against the Chicago Bulls), but Pacers ball out of bounds as Thaddeus Young fights for the offensive rebound.
0:5.9: Missed layup on a no-call, but draws the help defender as Young is in the right place at the right time to tip in it with ease to send the game into overtime.
“I just basically fed off of Victor’s play,” said Young, who added 18 points on efficient 8-of-11 shooting. “He drove to the basket, got guys to bite and commit and I was just basically in position to get the rebound.”
In the final three minutes plus overtime, Oladipo scored 14 of the Pacers final 22 points to lead the Pacers to their fourth consecutive home victory in this 6-game homestand.
“This is what we were hoping to develop,” said Nate McMillan of Oladio. “This type of player that in the future will be a franchise player.”
None of Oladipo’s heroics would have mattered without superb defense down the stretch that held the Nuggets scoreless for nearly eight minutes from the end of regulation through overtime. The Pacers ended the game on a 21-2 run.
“We started to get back to Pacers basketball,” said Young, “which is pressuring up and getting into guys … On the defensive end, we were aggressive and forcing a lot of pressure.”
“We held them to two points in overtime,” said Oladipo, who also added seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. “That’s why we won the game.”
The legend of Oladipo continues to grow at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse as the player that two teams gave up on has found his home in Indianapolis.
“Opportunity. The players in this locker room,” Oladipo said when asked what the difference has been for him in Indiana compared to other places. “They’re phenomenal obviously. Playing with these guys make things so much easier for me. … It’s amazing how guys in this locker room lift each other up. It’s amazing what the guys in this locker room are capable of. Like I said before, it’s an honor and a blessing to be able to play with these guys night in and night out.”
The Pacers chemistry is a sight to behold, and it all starts with their leader.
“He’s such a pleasure to work with,” said McMillan, “… The kid just brings such a positive attitude to the locker room and to the game. He’s playing with a great deal of confidence and with people like that good things are going to happen to them. He’s going about this the right way, comes in works on his game and he is all about the team.”
The Pacers have now won 10 of their last 13 games to get to a record of 16-11.
“It’s chemistry,” said Lance Stephenson, who sparked the Pacers run in the second quarter after they were down 19, “Sticking together and believing in one another. We’re bringing it every night. … There’s no hate. You know what I mean? Some guys get mad about somebody doing good. This team wants their teammates to do good. I feel like that makes this team even better.”
The Pacers run in the second quarter was sparked by the Pacers everlasting energy of Stephenson, who scored or assisted on six straight Pacers possessions. Indiana scored on 10 of their last 12 possessions of the first half to cut the Nuggets lead to seven at halftime.
Myles Turner quietly put up 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds. He took advantage of small guys in the post as the Nuggets switched nearly every pick and roll. He capped off the night with a Dirk Nowitzki one-leg fadeaway impression that Oladipo says Myles works on “all the time.”
Oladipo’s 47 points is tied for the 5th-highest scoring game in Pacers franchise history. Four points higher than the career high of Paul George, but Oladipo is tired of all the George talk.
“I’m kind of getting sick and tired of the comparisons of Paul George and myself,” said Oladipo after the game. “He moved on. I moved on … I wish him all the best. I’m feathery right here as a Pacer. … I’m just grateful and honored to put on that jersey every night to play in front of those fans.”
The crowd was loving every minute of Oladipo’s performance, showering him with MVP chants late in the game.
“It was incredible,” Oladipo said of the atmosphere of the game. “Amazing. These fans are incredible. It’s like I never left.”
The Pacers next game is against the man who left in George and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night.
This article was originally posted on IndySportsLegends.com