GAME RECAP: Pacers 121, Knicks 113

Victor Oladipo flirts with a triple-double scoring 30 points, dishing 9 assists, and grabbing 8 rebounds as the Pacers beat the Knicks 121-113. Enes Kanter had 17 points and 11 rebounds for New York i

Postgame 180211

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GAME RECAP: Pacers 121, Knicks 113

Victor Oladipo flirts with a triple-double scoring 30 points, dishing 9 assists, and grabbing 8 rebounds as the Pacers beat the Knicks 121-113. Enes Kanter had 17 points and 11 rebounds for New York i
Feb 11, 2018  |  01:09

Victor Oladipo Scores 30 In Win Vs. Knicks | February 11th, 2018

Victor Oladipo goes 8-10 from the free throw and throws down multiple impact dunks to help him score 30 points, 9 assists, and 8 rebounds.
Feb 11, 2018  |  01:56

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - Feb. 11, 2018

February 11, 2018 - Pacers players Victor Oladipo, Al Jefferson, Myles Turner, and Lance Stephenson discussed Indiana's 121-113 win over the New York Knicks on Sunday evening at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Feb 11, 2018  |  04:06

Postgame: McMillan Press Conference - Feb. 11, 2018

Feb. 11, 2018 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan speaks with the media following Indiana's 121-113 win over the New York Knicks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Feb 11, 2018  |  06:07

Oladipo Drops the 360 Hammer

February 11, 2018: New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Feb 11, 2018  |  04:38

Hickory Halftime: Tony Hinkle

Feb. 11, 2018 - The Pacers remembered legendary Butler coach Tony Hinkle in a special Hickory Night halftime ceremony.
Feb 11, 2018  |  04:05

Simon Presents Oladipo with All-Star Jersey

Feb. 11, 2018 - Pacers owner Herb Simon presents Pacers guard Victor Oladipo with his All-Star jersey for next weekend's NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles.
Feb 11, 2018  |  01:09

Vic Drains the Dagger

February 11, 2018: New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Feb 11, 2018  |  06:10

Myles' Monster Denial

February 11, 2018: New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Feb 11, 2018  |  05:52

Postgame: Knicks Locker Room - Feb. 11, 2018

February 11, 2018 - The Indiana Pacers defeated the New York Knicks 121-113 on Sunday evening. Knicks Head Coach Jeff Hornacek, guard Frank Ntilikina, and guard Emmanuel Mudiay discuss the loss.
Feb 11, 2018  |  02:33

Lance Gets Fancy

February 11, 2018: New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Feb 11, 2018  |  05:40

Oladipo Makes a Poster

February 11, 2018: New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Feb 11, 2018  |  05:14

Bojan Stepback Splash

February 11, 2018: New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Feb 11, 2018  |  05:02

CoJo Slings it to Bojan

February 11, 2018: New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Feb 11, 2018  |  04:27

Lance Throws a Strike

February 11, 2018: New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Feb 11, 2018  |  04:15

Vic Glides Through The Defense

February 11, 2018: New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Feb 11, 2018  |  04:02

Bojan Hoop and Harm

February 11, 2018: New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Feb 11, 2018  |  03:47

Oladipo Keeps Bringing the Positives

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

A game such as this one, there's a buffet line of story angles to draw from. The Pacers are the sort of complicated team that produces games such as that.

Thaddeus Young was rock-steady with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. Myles Turner, following the advice of his bosses, was showing more of a willingness to mix it up around the basket. Bojan Bogdanovic, putting his shooting slump further behind him, was providing the perimeter scoring threat he was signed to provide. Joe Young was continuing to play well off the bench. Lance Stephenson was still being Lance Stephenson — the homecourt version, at least — by making big plays and being a minor irritant to opponents and his coach.

But the gist of Pacers' games usually starts with Victor Oladipo, who keeps finding ways to contribute on the court, words to entertain and enlighten reporters in the locker room, and songs to sing in the shower.

Oladipo, who was presented a framed All-Star jersey by Pacers owner Herb Simon in a brief pregame ceremony, once again came up big when needed in the 121-113 victory over New York at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, finishing with 30 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, and six steals. Oh, and just one turnover in his 38 minutes and 44 seconds.

It's becoming a familiar story for Pacers fans, but not an old one. Although this team still can't figure how to maintain a comfortable lead, it is now 32-25 with just one game left before the All-Star break mercifully arrives. Safe to say, it has exceeded preseason expectations by a wider margin than any team in the NBA. Safe to say, Oladipo is the primary reason for that.

He scored 30 or more points for the 10th time on Sunday. To give you an idea of the kind of breakthrough season this has been for him, he had scored 30 or more in his previous four NBA seasons nine times — none of them last season while playing for Oklahoma City, where he was an after-thought and also-ran next to league MVP Russell Westbrook, but grateful for the learning experience that provided. He also collected a steal for the 40th consecutive game, tying Ron Artest for the franchise record.

The ultimate stat that reveals Oladipo's value to the Pacers, of course, is this: they are 0-6 without him, losing by an average of more than 12 points, and 32-19 with him. Carry that win percentage over to the full season and they would be the third-best team in the Eastern Conference. Before the season, it wouldn't have been difficult to find people who thought they would be the third-worst team in the conference.

Oladipo's greatest quality is that, as the team's only All-Star, he wears the crown so well. Although he occasionally forced shots early in the season, he has learned to pick his spots. He shot poorly from behind the 3-point line on Sunday, hitting just 2-of-8 attempts, but eight rebounds, nine assists, and six steals give a guy some leverage. So does an 0-6 record when he's not there.

"He does a good job of keeping guys involved," coach Nate McMillan said. "We struggle when he's not out there on the floor. I thought our movement was good tonight."

He keeps teammates involved in the locker room, too. Sitting in front of his stall with an ice pack on each knee, he deflects the questions that offer opportunities to brag and jumps all over the questions that offer opportunities to praise other players. Sunday, Bojan Bogdanovic and Al Jefferson got the full treatment.

Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers president of basketball operations, met with the media before the game and said six players had come to him before last Thursday's trade deadline to ask him to keep the team together. Oladipo, who wouldn't say whether he was one of them — that might be bragging, after all — explained why.

"We all have a common goal and all have that mentality of something to prove," he said. "Everybody just likes each other. It's very hard to be in a space where everybody genuinely cares for the person next to them. We enjoy being together. Enjoy playing with each other, going out there and competing with each other. It's fun, man, and we still haven't been together even for a year."

The players elected Turner and Young co-captains before the season began, but Oladipo often appears to be their best leader. Perhaps that's because of his positive vibe, or the fact he talks to reporters the most because of his starring performances. He rejects that suggestion, too. He doesn't pontificate and doesn't seem to be the most talkative player during huddles. But, he's the one playing music in the locker room and belting out melodies from the shower that provide a backdrop to the interviews with his teammates.

"I lead with a positive attitude and a positive mindset," he said. "I just try and cheer 'em up, especially if it's 9 a.m. in the morning. They're like, 'What's wrong with this kid?' I just want to brighten their day and bring that positive energy to them. And it translates to the court."

He's learned the nuances of leadership, though, just as he's learned the nuances of being the team's lone All-Star in games by walking the fine line between being assertive and being selfish. He doesn't claim to be the leader. Doesn't want to be, either.

"I just try to be myself," he said. "That's another thing, why we gel so well. Guys lead at different times. As a leader, you gotta know when to follow as well as when to lead."

Then he began scanning the locker room while teammates dressed, going through a roll call.

"Lance leads in his own way. Al leads in his own way. Thad leads in his own way. Damo, Darren, Myles, Cory, Bojan...everybody leads in their own way. That's what makes it unique. When somebody has something to say, everybody listens. That's what's great about this team, there's a respect level for everybody."

So, don't ask him about himself.

Like, don't ask him about his plans for the dunk contest over All-Star Weekend.

"I don't know, we'll see," he said, repeatedly.

Don't bring up negatives, either, such as the fact he's hit just 10 of his last 39 3-point attempts. He doesn't do negatives.

"Really? I didn't notice," he said.

"I mean, hey...did you know that?" he added, turning to another reporter.

Told that reporter also had noticed, Oladipo shrugged.

"As a shooter, sometimes it ain't going to go in, sometimes it is," he said. "And guess what? I ain't never going to stop shooting. So, it don't matter.

"Did you watch my shots? Some of them in Boston (on Friday) literally rolled in and out of the rim. Today I was just short. And then I made the last one. I've been shooting my whole life and I've gotten a lot better at it over the years."

Do ask him, though, about his teammates and the Pacers' future. Told that Pritchard had stated Oladipo, Turner, and Sabonis offered a promising core of young talent that could help land free agents this summer, Oladipo didn't back away. But he didn't grow serious, either.

"Do you feel you guys are an attractive bunch to play with?" he was asked.

"I would say so," he said, putting on a mock serious voice. "We're fun. We're young. And we're free."

Oladipo paused as Turner chimed in with another description that went unheard, then quickly backed out.

"We're handsome, we're cute," Oladipo added, carrying on the theme.

"And you can sing," a reporter said.

"Tell me about it," Oladipo said.

The Pacers, meanwhile, are humming.


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," covers the formation and early seasons of the franchise. It is available at retail outlets throughout Indiana and online at sources such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.