Domantas Sabonis deserves a big chunk of the credit for keeping the Pacers in touch to run away with the win. Despite being saddled by foul trouble, Sabonis tied a career high with 30 points in just 21 minutes off the bench. In the first half, Domas logged 15 points and 7 rebounds in just over seven minutes on the floor.
The Pacers established their inside game early, working to take advantage of the young Knicks front court. Myles Turner scored six points on three consecutive possessions in the first quarter. Then Sabonis joined the fray and ended up finishing the first quarter with 13 points, working nicely to finish plays set up by Tyreke Evans, before Sabonis picked up his third foul.
Sabonis teamed up with Thad Young in the second half as they continued to assert themselves around the rim. Sabonis finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds, while Young did lots of dirty work and added 13 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 blocks. The bigs got it done!
But when it was winning time late in the fourth quarter, Victor Oladipo rose up and took over like an All-Star. Oladipo was 1-7 from three before hitting a huge 3 in the face of Tim Hardaway Jr. with 1:17 left in the game to put the Pacers up by six and in control for the first time in the second half.
The Knicks didn’t give in, though. A pair of free throws by Hardaway, who lit up the Garden with 37 points on just 19 shots, cut the lead to four. Then a layup by impressive undrafted rookie, Allonzo Trier cut the Pacers lead to two.
Following a time out, the Pacers ran a nice screen and fade to open Bojan Bogdanovic for a dagger three, but Bogey pulled the string and the ball missed everything. An alert Thad Young (doin’ dirty work), saved the ball out of bounds and found an open Oladipo in the corner with just enough time on the shot clock to rise up and knock down the actual dagger three.
Pacers escape from New York with their third consecutive road win and plenty to work on.
A few notes:
- Sabonis was officially scored his 30 points on 12-13 shots from the field, but the one missed “shot” should have been a turnover. Not sure how it could be considered a shot. (UPDATE: The box score was updated to correctly show Sabonis shooting 12-12 for the game.) Also, among his six fouls were a couple of ticky tack fouls which literally took him out of the game in both the first and second half.
- Oladipo has been battling illness and said after the game he felt a little shaky on the court. He certainly didn’t look like his normal self until he had to in the final three minutes. Despite the rough night, Oladipo score 11 fourth-quarter points to finish with 24 points on the night.
- With the bigs rolling around the rim, Nate McMillan went with a nine-man rotation in the first half, leaving TJ Leaf on the bench and using Bogey as a reserve PF. With Sabonis on the bench, Kyle O’Quin eventually played to fill in for Sabonis.
- Down the stretch in the fourth quarter, McMillan went with Sabonis and Cory Joseph, instead of Turner and Collison. This is similar to how McMillan worked last year, rolling with guys that have it going down the stretch.
- Sabonis made 6 of 7 free throws but the team finished 11-17 for the game, no doubt securing the spot at the bottom of the league in free throw attempts per game.
Next up: The Pacers, now 5-3, travel to Chicago to take on the Bulls on Friday night at 8 p.m. ET.