The end of the Indiana Pacers-New Orleans Pelicans game got a little wild. The Pacers, after building a seven point lead early in the fourth, surrendered a 21-4 run that put the Pelicans on top 106-96 with just shy of two and a half minutes on the clock. The Pacers scored four quick points and held strong defensively, leaving enough time for Victor Oladipo to pull up on a deep three with under 30 seconds left, unfolding a sequence only Reggie Miller could dream up.
unbelievable sequence from Victor Oladipo to tie the game pic.twitter.com/EqGzGuQj8Q— Wobphen Curry (@WorldWideWob) January 5, 2021
Oladipo was good on the three to cut the lead in half, then scrapped alongside Doug McDermott to force the steal on Lonzo Ball. Oladipo found Malcolm Brogdon outside of the three point arc, who dished to a wide open Myles Turner, drilling his own deep three to tie the game at 106-106.
Six points, 12 seconds doesn’t quite have the same ring to it that 8 points, 9 seconds does, but it was an incredibly welcome sight given how the game had more or less slipped through Indiana’s fingers to that point and even more so given how Indiana’s struggles were so blatant that it was a minor surprise they were in the game at all.
Turner set the tone early by picking up two fouls in the first 80 seconds and though Nate Bjorkgren opted to keep him in the game for a while longer, it was a precursor to a foul nightmare scenario for the Pacers. Domantas Sabonis quickly joined rank, picking up his third foul halfway through the second quarter.
This forced JaKarr Sampson into his first meaningful minutes of the season, and he responded with with a big second quarter, scoring seven points with a block to help the Pacers to a 53-51 advantage at the break. That lead would dissipate quickly, however, with another slow start to the third allowing the Pelicans to capitalize, going up seven early in the quarter.
In that time, Turner had picked up foul four & five, quickly sending him back to the bench. Sabonis meanwhile kept the Pacers alive, cutting the deficit to three halfway through the quarter with a three-pointer and two assists. Sabonis had six more to close the quarter, helping Indiana close the third on an 8-3 run that put them ahead going into the fourth.
T.J. McConnell was a force to start the fourth, leading the way on a pair of inbounds steals, starting the quarter on a 10-3 run that put them up by seven. While McConnell was the catalyst, McDermott was the buckets getter, scoring eight in the opening four minutes on two threes and a big time dunk.
At the halfway mark, up 92-85, turnovers began to catch up to the Pacers, as did foul trouble. While Turner remained out, Sabonis kept racking up the whistles. Indiana had just six turnovers in the opening three quarters, but eight to finish out the game, many of which coming on offensive fouls.
The Pelicans capitalized in a big way, going on that 21-4 run that involved fouling Sabonis out of the game with 3:46 remaining, Pacers down 10. Turner reentered the game with five fouls and proceeded to turn the tide of the game completely, dominating the defensive end on nearly each and every possession thereon, limiting New Orleans to 0-7 shooting down to close out the fourth, registering two blocks in the process while impacting the game so much more.
Every stop kept the door open just long enough for the Pacers to somehow close the gap and force overtime at 106-106. Turner not only played big on the defensive end to close out regulation, but was the offensive go-to to start overtime, scoring the first five for Indiana to give them a one point edge.
Oladipo scored the next five, hitting a wide open three with just over a minute remaining to give Indiana a two shot lead, up 116-112. On the next possession, Zion Williams attacked the rim, drawing the sixth foul on Turner, giving the Pelicans a much-needed break in potentially opening up the rim.
However, return of Sampson offered no relief for New Orleans, as he held strong on a Brandon Ingram drive, forcing a key stop with 49 seconds left. Unfortunately, the Pacers would relent after Oladipo fell in traffic, leading to an outlet dunk from Ball, tying the game with 26 seconds left.
On the final possession, Brogdon ran the clock down, driving against former Milwaukee teammate and point guard-usurper Eric Bledsoe, tossing up a floater that bounced in after four tries, sealing Indiana’s surprising 118-116 win over New Orleans.
Given all the storylines within the game, Brogdon’s game-winner may very well have decided the outcome of the game had he missed it and the game gone to a double overtime. Forcing five more minutes on the Pacers would’ve likely been a toll on Indiana’s interior defense, with all due respect to Sampson’s play in the game.
It’s not hard to imagine New Orleans seizing the opportunity had the game extended into the extra extra period, but fatigue may have began to set in for Brogdon in particular, who didn’t miss a second of playing time in the second half and overtime, logging 46 minutes. Not only did he log a ton of time after halftime, but so too did Sabonis and Justin Holiday.
Sabonis played through until he fouled out with 3:46 left in the fourth while Holiday entered the game for good after Turner picked up his fifth with 8:36 in the third. For all Bjorkgren has taken from his time in Toronto in terms of schemes, it hasn’t been quite the same in terms of minutes distribution.
Both Sabonis and Brogdon have logged higher per minute averages than any player on the Raptors the last two seasons, including big bumps for both players over their averages last year in Indiana. Part of that may be due to Indiana’s early injuries; outside of T.J. Warren, the Pacers have jotted Goga Bitadze, Brian Bowen II, and Jeremy Lamb on each report.
The other part could be about finding out what this team is, but despite the comeback win tonight, it was still trending in the same direction as their two losses insofar that they were completely unable to muster up enough offense late or avoid turnovers to keep a lead from slipping out from under them.
Rebounding was still a major issue as well. For the game, the Pacers were beaten soundly on the glass, 57-42, allowing 16 offensive rebounds to the Pelicans. New Orleans’s ability to score off of those rebounds was their key advantage, also defeating Indiana 60-50 in the paint.
New Orleans was successful in limiting Indiana’s dominance inside, but the Pacers themselves were much better at capitalizing on their shooting. Indiana again heaved up a boatload of threes, but made 19 on 45 attempts tonight, putting them over 40% for a game for the second time in their last three games.
That advantage (+30) was aided by a nice boost in points off turnovers, where Indiana outscored New Orleans 14-0 in the first half (finishing 22-14). Those proved their key advantage, ultimately being enough to push them over the top late.
Individually, the Pacers had five double figure scorers, led by Oladipo with 25. Turner’s strong finished put him at 17 for the game, finishing with three recorded blocks, feeling somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5 too few that counted. Brogdon had a masterful game despite a slow scoring start, finishing with 21 and 11 assists, including zero turnovers.
Sabonis also tallied a double double, finishing with 19 and 11 rebounds, also dishing seven assists and giving Indiana some much needed rim protection at times without Turner, scoring two blocks. Sampson also had a block, scoring seven points in nine minutes off the bench.
McDermott led the second unit with 11 points, eight of those coming to open the fourth while McConnell scored six with four rebounds and three steals. Justin Holiday hit a trio of threes to score nine with seven boards and five assists while Aaron Holiday hit a three, but still struggled in general, going 1-4 from deep, playing just 20 minutes.
The win moves Indiana to 5-2, putting them at 3rd in the East, a one game advantage over both Cleveland and Milwaukee for the Central Division lead. The win also starts the Pacers 1-0 in their nine-game stretch against Western Conference opponents, including 2-0 on the road.
The Pacers will return home for a pair of games, starting with a matchup against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.