Pacers End Long Road Trip On High Note In Win Over Knicks
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INDIANAPOLIS – The second half of the NBA season saw the Indiana Pacers get back to their winning ways.
A 121-106 victory concluded a 5-game road trip for the Pacers (28-14), taking care of the Knicks (10-32) at Madison Square Garden.
The win was a needed bounce back after giving up a season-high 135 points, in a 27-point loss, to the Celtics on Wednesday night.
“I wanted our guys to stay consistent with their play,” McMillan said after the Pacer’s started off the second half of the season with a win. “I thought we had good energy right from the start defensively. We had good ball movement.
“They came out with the business-like approach and played that way for 48 minutes. We knew they were going to be a little fatigued coming off a long road trip and our team approached the game the right way.”
It was a 3-2 road trip for the Pacers, with losses to the Raptors and Celtics, and victories over the Bulls, Cavaliers and Knicks.
“We still had an opportunity to go better than .500 on this trip,” McMillan said of the goal after the blowout loss to the Celtics. “That’s what we talked about going in to this game, after the Boston game.
“Anytime you can do that in the NBA it is a good trip.”
Domantas Sabonis got his 4th straight start in place of Myles Turner (sore right shoulder) and led Indiana with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Victor Oladipo had an efficient night scoring the ball, finishing with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
Indiana had 7 guys in double figures with Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott joining the double-digit scoring starters with 12 points apiece.
The Pacers jumped out to an early cushion, but needed a 12-0 run to end the first half to be in full control.
That 12-point lead at halftime continued to remain at double digits throughout the second half.
Three Pacers’ Takeaways:
-Sabonis Loves Him Some Madison Square Garden: Domantas Sabonis loves him the bright lights of Madison Garden. Sabonis had 22 points and 12 rebounds on Friday night. In two games at MSG this season, Sabonis has gone 21-of-26 from the field, as he scored 30 points on a perfect 12-of-12 night back on Halloween in New York. While the defensive presence of Myles Turner has certainly been missed in the past week, Sabonis is such a reliable and consistent scorer for this team. You won’t find another big man in the league that can hop off the bench and give you the sort of scoring production as Sabonis.
-Evaluating The Pacers: Now that the second half of the season is here, the big picture view will be talked about even more for the 2018-19 Pacers. Can this team get on a playoff run? It’s really hard to accurately answer that right now because of the injuries they’ve had early in the season. There haven’t been too many long stretches with the Pacers healthy this season, with the schedule also matching up against elite teams in the East. Some separation has begun in the East, with the Pacers firmly in the top-5 of the conference. The goal of getting homecourt has to be the central focus for this team in the second half of the year.
-Coming Back Home: It was a 3-2 record for the Pacers on their longest road trip of the season, as Indiana took care of the three worst teams in the Eastern Conference. Now, Indiana will come home for 5 straight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. As McMillan says above, anytime you can have a better than .500 record on a road trip, it’s a good thing. That’s especially the case when Myles Turner is out for 4 of those 5 games. Indiana took care of business over the bad teams on the road trip (Bulls, Cavs and Knicks) and lost to the good teams (Raptors and Celtics).
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-Suns (Tuesday, 1/15)
-76ers (Thursday, 1/17)
-Mavericks (Saturday, 1/19)
-Hornets (Sunday, 1/20)
-Raptors (Wednesday, 1/23)