The Pacers bench scoring still ranks 29th out of 30 teams at around 26 points per game, but on Wednesday the bench busted out with 43 points, led by Doug McDermott’s 19 points and Goga Bitadze’s 13.
That also doesn’t account for normal reserves, JaKarr Sampson and Aaron Holiday who combined for 32 points while filling in for Myles Turner and Jeremy Lamb in the starting lineup. When the reserve guys have it going like that, the versatile lineup options seem endless. Let’s hope this wasn’t a one-night wonder.
Other observations from the Fieldhouse:
- The Pacers didn’t let the poor finish and controversial officiating in Charlotte on Tuesday, hamper their effort on Wednesday. According to McDermott, that focus was emphasized when game prep started in the morning. “It starts at the top with Nate, Coach DB and the whole staff. They didn’t let last night slide under the rug,” McDermott said. “We had a really good team meeting before the shootaround and they got after us. Kind of motivated us to go out there and play hard. Last night, I think the starters did a really good job, us as a bench kind of thought we lost that game last night, so we were very excited for this one.”
- Aaron Holiday took advantage of playing in the starting lineup, finding the range from three and also causing Isaiah Thomas to fade away as a threat in the game. Holiday scored 18 points and more importantly, did so in efficient fashion making 7 of 10 shots. Nate McMillan mentioned after the game that he doesn’t give out game balls, but if he did he would have given it to Holiday.
- What did Holiday think of his big night? Good question. The young fella exited the locker room early before sharing his thoughts with the media. Just one of several players on the roster who don’t need bask in the spotlight or seek media attention. If there was ever a night for AHoliday to take his time, lean back and soak up the adulation, it was last night. Nope. He gone.
- T.J. Warren is another guy who likes to avoid any outside attention, but his play of late demands notice. Warren scored 21 points on Wednesday, backing up the 33-point effort on Tuesday to keep him rolling over his last three games. In those games, Warren is averaging 26.7 points, shooting 69% from the field and 41.7% from 3-land.
- JaKarr Sampson doesn’t mind absorbing a little attention for a job well done. He was happy to discuss his 14-point game which showed from the smile on his face. But despite the offensive production, Sampson made sure everyone knew that his role and his focus whether as a starter or off the bench is to focus on defense and rebounding.
- Domas Sabonis emerged unscathed and appears to be good-to-go going forward after missing a couple of games with a calf contusion. He wanted to avoid the back-to-back so sat out an extra game in Charlotte. Myles Turner appears close to returning, as well. Turner went through his individual pre-game workout on the court and wasn’t showing any limp while working through his shooting routine.
- Alize Johnson filled in for JaKarr Sampson’s reserve role off the bench. McMillan gave him minutes that had been going to T.J. Leaf. According to the coach, he wanted some more scrap and with the Wizards going small with C.J. Miles playing the four, he figured Alize could chase him around give the team some scrap and hustle. Mission accomplished.
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