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The Indiana Pacers no-point lineup key to comeback victory

With 3:51 remaining in the game, the Indiana Pacers were down by eight points as Nate McMillan called timeout and went to a lineup that had played only a single minute together all season: Victor Oladipo, Lance Stephenson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner.

“Nate called a timeout,” said Oladipo, who was named  Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the second time this season, “and all I said was, ‘There’s a lot of time left. We just gotta take it one possession at a time,’ and we did a great job.”

Almost no previous time together. No point guard. No problem. Oladipo took care of the offense to the tune of 47 points and the defense took care of the rest down the stretch.

Continue reading The Indiana Pacers no-point lineup key to comeback victory

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Victor Oladipo defends his city with 47 points in comeback victory

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

The Indiana Pacers chemistry is natural, but not accidental

Kevin Pritchard seems to have created something special in Indiana.

Perhaps not in terms of an abundance of talent on this Pacers team, but in a creation of chemistry that most teams can only dream about having after a few years growing together with little roster turnover. But this team brought in nine new players in a single off-season.

“This is the best locker room that I’ve ever been in,” said Myles Turner.  Continue reading The Indiana Pacers chemistry is natural, but not accidental

Behind Victor Oladipo, the Indiana Pacers have the will to win

The Indiana Pacers had no business winning this game.

In the first half, the Pacers were outscored 55-39 and couldn’t buy a stop for much of the second half as the Chicago Bulls (3-19) shot 62% in the third quarter.

The Pacers came out “lackadaiscal” to begin the game according to Myles Turner.  Continue reading Behind Victor Oladipo, the Indiana Pacers have the will to win

The Indiana Pacers have never been more fun

The Indiana Pacers (12-9) have had better teams in the past but they’ve never been more fun than this.

Just watch this video. Feel the joy. Buy a home or rent an Airbnb in this lovely neighborhood.

Indiana’s never had more enjoyment from watching the Pacers than with this underdog group of running, gunning, have fun-ing bunch. Almost every game at the Fieldhouse turns into a house party.

The fun all starts with Lance Stephenson, who has averaged over 17 points per game in his last three and has added five assists and eight rebounds in consecutive games.

Stephenson is the Pacers prodigal son, who languishes outside of Indiana when he’s not wearing the blue and gold and thrives in Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. He dances and inspires dances. He prances. He plays air guitar. He high-fives the crowd. He head-butts stanchions.

“Coach is doing a good job of letting me play through mistakes,” Stephenson said after tonight’s party of a win against the Orlando Magic. “He lets me be me.”

The Pacers fans wouldn’t have it any other way. Everything that Lance does elicits a louder reaction than if someone else would have done the same. So when he does something special as has been the case often lately, it feels like the roof may collapse.

But the Pacers are this fun for more than just Lance reasons.

Victor Oladipo made his first 11 shots tonight, which included maybe five heat checks that all went in. It got to the point where even he didn’t know what was happening after banking in a 3-pointer.

Domantas Sabonis continues to be gift from the basketball gods, (mostly the god of European big men Arydvas Sabonis). He scored 19 points while taking just seven shots, added eight rebounds and five assists. That crazy play by Lance wouldn’t have been possible without his expert cut at just the right time.

“I don’t know. It just happens,” Domas said of his on-court play with Lance, “… He understands me. It’s just chemistry.”

The Pacers other stud young big man, Myles Turner, was no slouch tonight either as he scored 18 points in the first three quarters, being unleashed from long range with five attempts and three makes. He nearly had four made 3-pointers but his toes were on the line on one attempt.

“The thing I love about this team is that we never stop competing,” Turner said.

Every game is non-stop effort from the Pacers. They may lose some games, but as Turner said, they’re always competing. Whether they’re down 22 in the third quarter or having just lost a lead at the start of the fourth quarter like tonight.

The Magic were up one briefly in the fourth quarter. Then the Pacers went on a 23-5 run.

The Pacers aren’t just a one-man show these days. Anybody is capable of a huge night to lift the team, Bojan Bogdanovic continues to show a more all-around offensive game than many expected, Thad Young is the glue guy, Darren Collison is capable of occasional 30-point nights. They play together and as a unit. They care about each other off the court.

These Pacers are modern. These Pacers are always looking to run. These Pacers love to play together. The Pacers have never been more fun.

Why everybody loves playing with Domantas Sabonis

Game after game, it seems like there are more and more reasons to gush over the performance of Domantas Sabonis.

He’s been called the quarterback of the offense by Thaddeus Young. Nate McMillan said early in the year that they like to run the offense through him while he’s out there. He’s played two games while battling an illness only to produce a couple of his best performances of the season in those contests.  Continue reading Why everybody loves playing with Domantas Sabonis

I don’t miss you, Paul George

I avoided watching Paul George and the Thunder play until last night when he played his first game against the team that drafted him in the Indiana Pacers.

Much like my strategy would be after a break up with a significant other, I just wanted to avoid it. Forget about it. Out of sight. Out of mind. At one point in the off-season, I nearly muted the words Paul George on Twitter.

I was expecting a mix of emotions watching George play against the Pacers. Some painful nostalgia of the good times, longing for the good old days of hot shooting, elite defense, dope dunks and deep playoff runs.  Continue reading I don’t miss you, Paul George