Victor Oladipo: “I’m going to be the best in the league.”

Indiana Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo continues to progress in his rehab and appears as confident as ever in the first episode of The VO Show.

“I’m going to be the best in the league,” Oladipo emphatically tells the camera after some shooting drills. “Watch what I’m saying. I’m not playing no games, man.”

He then points to his leg and calls it “a blessing” as he walks out the door.

During the training session, he works on hand-eye coordination while dribbling in a seated position and while he’s walking gingerly still, he is jumping slightly on his shots. Continue reading Victor Oladipo: “I’m going to be the best in the league.”

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Should the Pacers fire Nate McMillan?

The Indiana Pacers season is over after being swept for the second time in three years during Nate McMillan’s tenure as head coach. Should they start searching for a replacement to get them deeper into the postseason?

If you only look at the team’s overall performance this season, it’s hard to see why the Pacers would want to move on at this current moment. Victor Oladipo missed 46 games and the Pacers impressively matched their win total from the previous season at 48. That’s a huge accomplishment. They’ve exceeded all reasonable expectations in each of the last two years and he’ll deservedly get a few votes for Coach of the Year this season because of that.

The Positives

Indiana had the third-best defensive rating in the league and the team gave maximum effort every game, never giving up no matter the circumstance. McMillan’s disciplined approach clearly has had its effect on this group, and the players have bought into the culture of the 3Ts (Toughness, Togetherness, Trust) and have praised him at various times in recent memory. Continue reading Should the Pacers fire Nate McMillan?

The struggle is real for the Pacers offense

Down 0-2 in a series that many gave them no chance to win before it even began, the Indiana Pacers are on life support.

The offense has died for entire quarters in each of the first two games. The Pacers pair of young big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis have been non-existent on offense. Late-game execution has been a nightmare. And yet despite these and other issues, Indiana comes home feeling like they’ve beat themselves against the Boston Celtics, who have been considered a contender in the East all season.

“We can’t have these mental lapses,” said Sabonis after the second game. “It’s all execution. For us, it feels like we lost both games.”

Pacers coach Nate McMillan called the last minute “the worst basketball I’ve seen in a long, long time.Continue reading The struggle is real for the Pacers offense

Do the Pacers have anything left as the playoffs approach?

INDIANAPOLIS–The Pacers have looked like they’ve been out of energy for weeks.

Tonight, as they faced a Brooklyn Nets team that was trying to clinch a playoff spot, it showed enough for Pacers head coach Nate McMillan to speak candidly about it after the game.

“We’re talking about we want to play,” said McMillan, “but I may have to make some decisions for some guys [to rest]. Because our motor is very low right now, that effort that we saw at the start of the game. We can’t start like that.”

McMillan highlighted the 12 offensive rebounds in the first half as a sign that the Pacers had no fight in this one, and while he doesn’t think it’s a lack of effort, he did admit that perhaps the team has hit a wall.

“Guys have given extra since Victor’s been out. We’ve had to lift and probably ask for a little bit more from this group since we lost a key player like that,” said McMillan. “… We’ve squeezed our guys a lot to get to this point. Is there anything left? I think so.”

McMillan said they will have the day off tomorrow and will be in talks with everyone to see what they need to do in terms of rest to be ready for the playoffs next week. The Pacers are just one win shy of their 48 wins from last year while Oladipo has missed over half the season. It’s an impressive feat but the team has been running on fumes.

The Pacers have struggled with their tough schedule since the All-Star break, seemingly playing a team fighting for something in the playoffs every night. They’ve gone 7-14 since February 25th and just 3-9 since March 16th.

“If we hit a wall or run out of gas, there’s nothing we can really do about that but try to rest as much as possible and continue to go out there and play,” said Thad Young. “That happens when your star player goes down. You have to give a little bit more. You have to elevate your game. It’s a process. … The biggest thing is just to continue to play, stay the course and making sure we’re there on the defensive side.”

Young was very focused on the poor defensive effort from the Pacers tonight, mentioning the many lapses on that end with backdoor cuts, letting guys blow by them, not smashing down on rebounds.

“Defense is what wins games for us and we haven’t been playing very good defense,” Young said. “… That’s not what we do as a team, we keep guys in front of us, we play physical on the defensive end and we make teams work for each and every bucket. That’s what we haven’t been doing.”

Young suggested the team going back to the basics and doing “high-school” drills like closeouts and putting guys in forced help positions.

Domantas Sabonis, who had his 30th double double of the season with 17 points and 12 rebounds, wasn’t a fan of the idea of taking games off or resting games but even he noted that the team has lacked energy.

“I think it’s the energy,” Sabonis said of what needs corrected before the playoffs. “If we don’t have energy, we can’t guard. Everyone’s thinking ‘Oh, he’s going to help me out, he’s going to help me out,’ but we just got to stick together. The main thing is not falling apart.”

The Pacers have one week before the playoffs begin to recharge and find the energy necessary to pull off the upset against the Celtics. They’re now officially locked into the 5th seed.

“I’m very confident in our group that we’re gonna do well,” said Darren Collison, who made his return to the lineup by making just 2 of his 12 shot attempts. “I think we match up well with them; we’ve been playing them well all year long. I’m not just looking at the last game. I think when we play our best, we can beat any team in the East and I’m very confident about that.”

For the Pacers to be at their best, they made need to take this week and rest.

 

Visiting with Oladipo just what the doctor ordered for the Pacers

After Victor Oladipo suffered his season-ending knee injury, the Indiana Pacers looked doomed to a downward spiral as they immediately lost their next four games.

They were in the middle of a 4-game road trip and had lost to their third non-playoff opponent in just six days, but then the schedule gave the Pacers a blessing. They would have an off day in Miami where Oladipo was staying after having surgery on his ruptured quad tendon.

Typically, the patient is the one who needs the visitors to uplift them after a major operation like Oladipo’s but for the Pacers visiting with their All Star was just what they needed.

“It was good to see him, physically,” Myles Turner told the Indy Star. “He was in good spirits. I didn’t expect anything less.”

Doug McDermott agreed and told the Star, “He’s always got energy. He’s always upbeat. He gave us words to hold on to. Vic is still our vocal leader even when he’s not in the locker room. We still talk to him. He texts us. It was good just to hear his voice and be around him.” Continue reading Visiting with Oladipo just what the doctor ordered for the Pacers

Edmond Sumner gets a new contract from Pacers

The Indiana Pacers have added Edmond Sumner to their NBA roster with a 2-year deal with a team option on the second year according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“Stuck with it through the ups and the downs. And left it up to God. It’s a blessing man. Journey has been crazy but it’s not over,” Sumner wrote on Instagram.

Sumner was previously on a 2-way contract which limits the amount of time that he can spend with the Pacers to 45 days. His 45 days were likely up and the Pacers signed him to the 2-year deal in lieu of converting the contract for just the rest of this season.

Sumner has shown flashes of potential throughout the season, highlighted by his 17-point game against the Lakers earlier this week. He was sensational for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, averaging 23.9 points per game on 50% shooting overall and 40% from 3-point range. And he plays well on the other end too.

The contract gives the Pacers flexibility with their prospect. They can decline the team option this season but then offer him a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent or if they exercise his team option, he’ll be a restricted free agent the next season. If the Pacers want to keep him around, it should be easy to do so for the foreseeable future.

This puts the team at 15 guaranteed contracts after the addition of Wes Matthews which means the Pacers will likely not be adding anyone else to the team during the season.

Wesley Matthews has ‘Pacers spirit’

The Indiana Pacers didn’t make any league altering trades at the deadline but don’t overlook the coming addition of Wesley Matthews.

Matthews, who was traded to the New York Knicks earlier this week, agreed to a buyout and plans to sign with the Pacers for the veteran minimum once he clears waivers according to multiple media reports.

As with any midseason addition to a group with great chemistry, it’s always important to consider how someone will fit in the locker room. Matthews seems like an ideal culture fit that goes with the organization’s mantra of the 3Ts: toughness, togetherness and trust.

“Perfect pickup for us,” Thad Young told reporters after Thursday’s game. “… Most of all he brings toughness, a defensive mentality we need. He embodies what we do as a team. He has that Pacers spirit in him already.” Continue reading Wesley Matthews has ‘Pacers spirit’

Reports: Pacers to sign Wesley Matthews

The Indiana Pacers will sign Wesley Matthews after he agreed to a buyout from the New York Knicks according to multiple media reports.

Continue reading Reports: Pacers to sign Wesley Matthews

Trade deadline: Pacers acquire second-round pick in trade with Rockets

The Indiana Pacers did the Houston Rockets a favor by taking on Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin in a trade. For their troubles, the Pacers will get a second-round pick from the Rockets in the deadline deal reported by ESPN.

The Pacers will waive both of these players, having no intention of keeping them on the roster. The Rockets motivation is getting below the luxury-tax threshold in the trade.

To make the trade legal, the Pacers do have to send something to the Rockets but it will likely just be a top-55 protected second-round pick that will never actually convey to Houston. Continue reading Trade deadline: Pacers acquire second-round pick in trade with Rockets

Rumors: Pacers made an offer for Mike Conley

The trade deadline is quickly approaching and the Indiana Pacers are showing up in Mike Conley rumors.

Sam Amick and Tony Jones of The Athletic both reported that the Pacers have been in contact with the Memphis Grizzlies about Conley.

Jones reported that Pacers offered one young player and one veteran but the Memphis counter off was far too high. It seems the trade demands for Memphis make this deal unlikely to happen. Continue reading Rumors: Pacers made an offer for Mike Conley

Pacers need to find more opportunities for Myles Turner

Myles Turner has shown some things on the offensive end of the floor over these last two games that he hasn’t in the first three years of his career. The Indiana Pacers just lost their superstar and they need someone to step up.

Turner looks like he can help fill some of that Oladipo-sized void on offense. Now he just needs the ball with some consistency.

In the first half against the Grizzlies, Turner only had three shot attempts. After playing well in the third quarter with 7 points on 3-of-5 shooting and doing his DPOY-candidate thing on the defensive end, he didn’t come back into the game until four minutes were left in the fourth quarter and didn’t attempt another shot until less than one minute was left. This kind of thing just shouldn’t happen as often as it does with a player like Turner.

The lack of consistency in touches for Turner has long been an issue for the Pacers. While his stats may say that his development has been stagnant during his career, it feels more true that it’s his role that hasn’t evolved along with him. Especially when you see him make some of the moves he’s made recently.

Turner waves off Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic to take that last possession ISO of the half and makes a gorgeous hesitation move to blow by the defender and get the dunk. How many centers are making that move? Earlier in the half, he beat Kevin Durant in a one-on-one situation with a pump fake and nailed the shot. You have to find more ways to get a guy like this frequent touches with chances to score.

With no Oladipo, there’s no reason for him to not be involved more often than he currently is. His usage percentage has dropped from 22% in December to 16% in January before the game against the Warriors. He’s taking three less shot attempts per game than he did in the previous month. That trend can’t continue.

Turner, to his credit, is starting to take things into his own hands at times. He’s been aggressive with driving the ball from the perimeter way more in the last two games than he ever has been, especially when it’s been awhile since he’s taken a shot. This was his first shot attempt since four minutes were left in the first quarter against Memphis.

Maybe this is what he needed to do all along, but it’s hard to put the lack of purposeful involvement on Turner, when he was once told he needed to “distribute more” after having the best month of his young career in January 2017 when he averaged 17.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

The purpose of that from Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan at the time was to encourage Turner to make the extra pass, instead of shooting it at every opportunity. While Turner has made many strides as a passer since then, it feels like the pendulum never swung back to Turner being a centerpiece for the Pacers offense. All of these passes in last two games are plays that he likely doesn’t make during his rookie season.

Two of these passes come after he starts to try and create for himself. Giving him the freedom to create more often may allow him to be a better playmaker for others at times as well.

Turner’s starting to make moves off the dribble that are insane for a big man. The amount of space this crossover creates should have McMillan drooling over his young stud. His defender almost falls over on this play!

Ben Pfeifer of 8 points, 9 seconds has making Myles Turner a focal point of the offense as one of his three keys to figuring out the offense without Oladipo.

Let. Myles. Do. More.

It’s always felt like he has a shorter leash than others when it comes to shot selection though this seems to be getting better.

The Pacers are starting to embrace his 3-point shot more and more of late which is good to see. Turner took seven from distance against the Grizzlies and finished by making his last three attempts after missing his first four. The fact that he kept shooting them despite the slow start is huge.

After starting the year off slowly as a 3-point shooter making just seven of his first 31 attempts, he’s made 30 of 63 long-range shots since December (47.6%).

Turner was one of few bright spots in the blowout loss to the Warriors. He was one of only a few players that looked like they belonged on the floor competing against the defending champs. The Pacers have to find more ways to get him opportunities on the offensive end.

Where do the Pacers go from here?

The Indiana Pacers lost Victor Oladipo to a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter of Wednesday’s game. He suffered a ruptured quad tendon that could put him out anywhere from six to twelve months.

There are no adequate words to describe the numbness that comes in the moments and hours directly after witnessing an injury that devastating. Shock, disbelief, clinging to some tiny hope that it isn’t as bad as it seems.

There was no joy in watching the Pacers continue to play after Oladipo was taken out on a stretcher. No anxiety as the game was close in the final minute. None of that mattered much. The Pacers had already lost more than this one game could possibly make up for. Continue reading Where do the Pacers go from here?

Victor Oladipo suffers knee injury, leaves on stretcher

Indiana Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo suffered a devastating knee injury and left on a stretcher during the second quarter in Wednesday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors.

Oladipo was hustling back on defense when suddenly his knee seemed to give out as he was getting close to challenging the play. You can hear Oladipo scream in pain when the play happens.

Pacers trainer quickly covered Oladipo’s knee with a towel after a quick look and called for a stretcher.

The Pacers came out in this game with a mission to show they can compete with the top teams in the East especially after struggling in their first two games against the Raptors. They had played well and with some of their best defense of the season to start but now their focus switches to how long their superstar Oladipo will be out.

The Indiana Pacers have announced that it is a serious right knee injury and that Oladipo will have an MRI tomorrow. No other updates will come tonight from the team officially. Prayers up to the heart and soul of the Pacers.

ESPN reports that Pacers fear a season-ending injury that will require surgery.

Darren Collison is quietly returning to form

The Indiana Pacers dominated the Detroit Pistons in every way imaginable last night as they won by 37 points. One of the many highlights of the night was Darren Collison’s perfect shooting performance as he made all seven of his shot attempts for 19 points.

These shot attempts weren’t wide open attempts. Collison made some impressive shots while also dishing out seven assists with only one turnover.

The fact that he only took his first shot with four minutes left makes his perfect shooting night even more impressive especially with a taller player directly in front of him and the shot clock winding down.

After his first dunk of the season that made the entire bench lose its collective mind and following it up with a step-back 3-pointer, Myles Turner decided to capture the Collison moment in all its glory by pretending to take a picture with his hands. Continue reading Darren Collison is quietly returning to form

A Brief Pacers History: The Curse of December 18th

The Indiana Pacers played what may end up being their worst game of the season against the Cleveland Cavaliers last night.

The game was marred by a lack of energy throughout and crucial miscues in the final minute including three consecutive missed free throws by Victor Oladipo and a blatant foul that went uncalled as Larry Nance Jr. tossed Oladipo to the ground before tipping in the game winner at the buzzer as the Pacers lost 92-91. Just like that the hottest team in the league lost to one destined for the lottery.

Every good team has a game or two like this during the course of the season, but what if I told you this one may have been predetermined by cosmic forces beyond their control?

This isn’t the first time a frustrating, painful loss occurred recently on December 18th for Indiana. It’s starting to look like they’re cursed on this seemingly random day in the final month of the calendar year.

Reddit user ArchBishopBanana first called attention to the date by pointing out that the Pacers are just 1-5 on the 18th of December in the last 10 years. And there are some of those worst, most painful regular-season losses of the last decade among the five that have happened on that date.

Just last season, December 18th was a night that everyone would love to forget when Bojan Bogdanovic inexplicably threw away the game against the Boston Celtics as the Pacers lost 112-111.

Which of the following sounds more likely? A career 85.8% free-throw shooter refusing to take the foul with his team ahead in the final seconds and instead throw up a hot-air balloon of a pass near the half-court line or the Pacers are simply dealing with some dark magic on this otherwise inconsequential day in their history?

I’d ask if anyone was denied entrance to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse with a goat or some other barnyard animal on December 18th in the past, but the struggles on this date have been on the road as well.

In 2013 during the peak of the Pacers and Heat rivalry, Indiana lost a close game in Miami after leading by 15 points midway through the third quarter as the Heat went on a 10-0 run late. This one featured another memorable missed call as Paul George went up for a potential tying 3-pointer with LeBron James’s hand on his hip with a subtle push. He was visibly upset by the no call after his shot was way off and the buzzer sounded. The Pacers lost 97-94.

With these three excruciating losses all happening on the same day in recent seasons, it’s safe to say no Pacers fan would mind if they never played on 12/18 ever again.

Ponytail Myles: The confident, surprisingly vulgar Pacers two-way monster

Myles Turner is having the best stretch of his career with Indiana Pacers and the timing aligns precisely with a new hairstyle.

Coincidence?

“That’s what everybody is gassing up,” Turner said after he scored 23 points against the Bucks, “Everybody’s saying it’s the ponytail, so I guess I gotta keep it now, right? … I just wanted to try something different and then my teammates … said it looks good, go for it.”

In the four games since Turner first broke out the pony, he’s averaged 20.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 1.5 assists while shooting 52.4% from the field on 15.8 attempts per game and 60% from 3-point range on 3.8 attempts, which earned him a nomination for the Eastern Conference Player of the Week that his teammate Thad Young was awarded.

“Ponytail Myles!” Cory Joseph, who claimed to be the inspiration for it, joked during Turner’s post-game media session after the win against Milwaukee. “He got the dreads out of his hair. He can finally see the rim now!”

His teammates have had some fun joking about the hairstyle change, but it’s his huge contributions to this 7-game winning streak that’s been the focus.

“It’s the hair … no, I’m just playing,” Victor Oladipo said of Turner’s play of late. “It’s been good. We need him to play at that high level.”

Ponytail Myles has no chill

Ponytail Myles isn’t just playing well. He’s also playing with a new attitude. In the first game of this era, Turner and Bradley Beal got into it a bit after Beal flopped and Turner called him a motherf***er. Continue reading Ponytail Myles: The confident, surprisingly vulgar Pacers two-way monster

Pacers Myles Turner gives the Philly crowd the finger

After picking up his third foul during the second quarter while guarding Joel Embiid, Myles Turner gave the middle finger to the Philadelphia crowd.

Ponytail Myles has no chill. He’ll be getting a fine for that one tomorrow morning.

Hopefully the Indiana Pacers can find a way to make the Sixers be the ones who are getting frustrated as Embiid has forced both Turner and Sabonis into foul trouble while dominating with 28 points and 14 rebounds in the first half alone.

Update: Pacers dominated the second half (64-42) to beat the Sixers and Myles Turner apologizes on Twitter after the game

Pacers proving to have Oladipo’s back as he returns

In Victor Oladipo’s absence, many of the Indiana Pacers stepped up in a combined effort to fill the void of their superstar and did so as well as anyone could have hoped. Now, those same players are allowing Oladipo to ease back into playing like his old self as he returns to action from his injury.

“I can’t get it all back in one possession. I haven’t played in three weeks,” said Oladipo after last night’s statement win against the Bucks. “You try to come out here and do too much, you kind of hurt your team a little bit and you hurt yourself. … My team has been playing well. Like I said, I learned a lot sitting out and watching them. I trust my teammates and I trust they’ll make the right play.”

The Pacers performed admirably without Oladipo as they went 8-4 including his quick exit against the Hawks. You can go through the entire rotation and find instances of each player stepping up their game but perhaps none more than Bojan Bogdanovic and Myles Turner.

You have to wonder if Oladipo would have tried to come back much sooner if the team wasn’t playing well. The team’s depth came through.

Bogdanovic averaged 19.6 points during the 12-game stretch and leads the league in 3-point percentage on the season, becoming the Pacers go-to scoring threat. Turner was dominant on the defensive end, playing the best on that end of the floor in his career, while also becoming more consistently involved on the offensive end averaging 13.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in that same timeframe. Continue reading Pacers proving to have Oladipo’s back as he returns

Aaron Holiday back to waiting for his turn as Oladipo returns

Aaron Holiday performed admirably for a rookie getting his first real minutes for the Indiana Pacers, but now that Victor Oladipo has returned to the starting lineup Holiday goes back to waiting for his turn.

Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said he spoke with Holiday about the trickle down effect that Oladipo’s return to the starting lineup will have on his minutes.

“He did his job, now he goes back to his role,” McMillan said. “Victor’s back and we go back to our rotation.”

Even with Oladipo on a minutes restriction, Holiday played zero minutes in the win against the Milwaukee Bucks last night. Continue reading Aaron Holiday back to waiting for his turn as Oladipo returns

With Oladipo back, Pacers looking to be a top team in the East

INDIANAPOLIS–“I tell you one thing, the East is in trouble now, boy.”

Myles Turner jumped in during Victor Oladipo’s post-game interview on Fox Sports Indiana and made the verbal statement that the Indiana Pacers had made during the game as they beat the Milwaukee Bucks by a final score of 113-97 for their fifth straight win.

It’s just one game but the Pacers are now only a half game back of the Bucks for second in the Eastern Conference with a record of 18-10 with essentially 12 of those games coming without their star in Oladipo. It was the polar opposite of the Bucks destruction of the Pacers at the beginning of the season.

“It is a big game, but we still see these guys a couple more times,” said Darren Collison. “We’re trying to put it to the whole Eastern Conference. We want to be one of the best teams in the conference.”

Oladipo returned but his teammates continued to carry the load as they had done while he was out. Oladipo took just two shots in the first half, clearly easing his way back into things after an extended absence.

“I can’t get it all back in one possession,” said Oladipo, who finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in 29 minutes. “I haven’t played in three weeks. You try to come out here and do too much, you kind of hurt your team a little bit … I trust my teammates and I trust they’ll make the right play. Guys stepped up and played huge tonight. Myles, Thad, DC hit big shots down the stretch. I’m just glad to be back to help and continue to keep getting better.”

Thad Young is typically the guy whose box-score numbers don’t show his entire impact but tonight they did him justice as he led the team in scoring and did a masterful job on Giannis Antetokounmpo all game.

“I mean I really don’t care,” Young laughed at whether this was his best game as a Pacer. “I’ve never been one to care about stats or anything like that. If I score 2 points and we get the win, I’m happy.”

Young had a season-high 25 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, five steals and a block while holding Antetokounmpo to a season-low 12 points and just seven shot attempts. Young was +28 while he was on the floor and the Bucks star was -31. Young looked like the one that was a possible MVP candidate on this night.

“Great team defense,” Young said on slowing down Antetokounmpo. “My teammates were in gaps and every time I made him spin, they jumped in front of him. Guys were just making him pass the ball out. … He’s a tough guy to guard, especially in transition .. he has me tired right now.”

Teammates all had high praise for their captain’s defensive performance:

“That’s something you’re going to get all year long,” said Collison. “It’s not easy guarding Giannis. Giannis is playing at an MVP-type level and to play defense against him is pretty amazing. You have to give credit to Thaddeus.”

Myles Turner agreed: “Thad was great. He was able to step up with defense on Giannis and we had his back. And he made all the hustle plays. He had all the rebounds, hit some big shots. He had a great overall performance tonight.”

Turner, rocking the ponytail for the second-consecutive game, continued his superb play of late as he scored 23 points on a career-high 22 shot attempts with seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

“It’s the hair … no, I’m just playing,” Oladipo said of Turner’s play of late. “It’s been good. We need him to play at that high level. I felt like he was open a lot today as far back as the big was in the pick-and-roll. Throwing it back to him was key for us and it was big time that he was hitting his shots. It opened up the floor for everybody else. A big game from him tonight.”

Turner took a career-high 22 shots including six 3-point attempts. His last three ended a Bucks run that cut the lead briefly to single digits in the fourth and pushed the Pacers lead back to 11.

“Everybody looked at me and said, ‘Man, you gotta shoot when you’re that wide open,'” Turner on his career-high attempts. I didn’t realize I put up 22 shots … My team encouraged me to shoot those shots. It wasn’t like I was out there jacking. I took what was given to me.”

Ponytail Myles seems to ooze with confidence as his last two games with the ponytail are his only 20-point scoring games of the season to this point.

“That’s what everybody is gassing up, saying it’s the ponytail,” Turner said, “so I guess I gotta keep it.”

The Pacers got off to a 22-9 start in the game’s first six minutes and while the Bucks repeatedly cut into the Pacers lead with mini-runs, they never allowed them to get too close before someone on the Pacers shifted momentum back to their side.

“Indiana’s aggressiveness and execution on both ends of the court. I give them a ton of credit,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said, “they were very good tonight. We couldn’t match it, we kept hanging around a little bit, felt like maybe we could make a run, but they would hit a big shot.”

The Pacers dominated the rebounding battle in this one by a margin of 55-43 and held the Bucks to just 25.6% from the 3-point line.

Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 points. Doug McDermott hit all five of his attempts from the floor for 12 points and Domas Sabonis quietly had another double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Indiana has the 3rd-best defensive rating in the league at this point and the 7th-best overall net rating all while missing a huge chunk of games from their best player. The Pacers have another chance to show they belong with the best teams at the top of the Eastern Conference on Friday as they take on the Philadelphia 76ers.

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