Pacers at Cavaliers

Game Recap: Pacers 114, Cavaliers 111

T.J. McConnell recorded a triple-double of 16 points, 13 assists and 10 steals for the Pacers as they erased a 19-point deficit and defeated the Cavaliers, 114-111. Collin Sexton tallied 32 points, fo

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Game Recap: Pacers 114, Cavaliers 111

T.J. McConnell recorded a triple-double of 16 points, 13 assists and 10 steals for the Pacers as they erased a 19-point deficit and defeated the Cavaliers, 114-111. Collin Sexton tallied 32 points, fo
Mar 3, 2021  |  00:01

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room – March 3, 2021

March 3, 2021 - T.J. McConnell and Nate Bjorkgren discuss McConnell's game-changing performance, as well as the team's comeback win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Mar 3, 2021  |  02:38

McConnell posts rare triple-double with 10 steals

T.J. McConnell records historic triple-double with steals
Mar 3, 2021  |  00:04

Malcolm Brogdon (29 points) Highlights vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Malcolm Brogdon (29 points) Highlights vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 03/03/2021
Mar 3, 2021  |  00:01

McConnell Gets Steal No. 10

March 03, 2021: T.J. McConnell's 10th steal gives him his second career triple-double. It's the sixth points/assists/steals triple-double ever and the first since Mookie Blaylock in 1998.
Mar 3, 2021  |  00:11

Steal & Score for Sumner

March 03, 2021: Edmond Sumner steals it and finishes on the other end to give Indiana the lead.
Mar 3, 2021  |  00:10

Excellent Reverse Layup

March 03, 2021: Malcolm Brogdon with another one of his patented reverse layups.
Mar 3, 2021  |  00:10

McConnell's Ninth Steal

March 03, 2021: T.J. McConnell gets his ninth steal of the first half. This steal tied the NBA record for most steals in a half and the franchise record for steals in a game.
Mar 3, 2021  |  00:09

McConnell's Ninth Steal

March 03, 2021: T.J. McConnell gets his ninth steal of the first half. This steal tied the NBA record for most steals in a half and the franchise record for steals in a game.
Mar 3, 2021  |  00:09

McConnell to McDermott

March 03, 2021: T.J. McConnell finds Doug McDermott for the bucket.
Mar 3, 2021  |  00:08

Sumner Swat

March 03, 2021: Edmond Sumner rejects one out of bounds.
Mar 3, 2021  |  00:10

McConnell Picks a Pocket

March 03, 2021: T.J. McConnell gets the steal for an easy two.
Mar 3, 2021  |  00:10

Game Rewind: Pacers 114, Cavaliers 111

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 7:00 PM ET at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
by Brendan Rourke Contributor

Game Recap

Malcolm Brogdon may have had a team-high 29 points on an impressive 12-of-15 shooting. Cleveland’s Collin Sexton may have had a game-high 32 and 10 assists.

But the best stat line of the night belonged to T.J. McConnell.

From the minute he stepped off the bench, the human sparkplug provided fireworks. When the Pacers were struggling, he kept them in it. With 1:06 to play, his 10th and final steal helped seal the deal. Indiana (16-18) both ended a four-game skid and halted a four-game Cavaliers (14-22) winning streak with a 114-111 victory at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse Wednesday night.

“It’s very big,” coach Nate Bjorkgren said of the win. “There’s no quit in this team. I’ve been saying it all year.”

McConnell’s 16-point, 13-assist, and 10-steal triple-double is just the sixth such performance in NBA history and the first since Mookie Blaylock in 1998. It’s the first in NBA history from a player coming off the bench. His nine first-half steals also set a new NBA record. To boot, he finished a perfect 8-of-8 from the field. Although, none of these personal accolades made him stray from his prototypical mindset.

“My teammates enabled it,” he humbly stated of his performance. “The way they were pressuring the ball, letting me get in the passing lanes, making shots, and getting me the ball. So, all credit to them.”

With his team up 108-106 and 1:18 to play, McConnell lined up against Dylan Windler at the top of the key. Windler attempted to drive and pass to the left, but McConnell poked the ball free. The loose rock fell into the hands of Brogdon, who finished an easy layup for the 110-106 advantage. When the Cavaliers threatened again, Brogdon remained clutch, sinking a 17-footer and a pair of free throws to finish off the game. The Blue & Gold trailed by as many as 19 in the second half before climbing back in the fourth.

In a statistical anomaly, the Pacers found themselves trailing 61-51 after the first half. McConnell’s nine steals led to Cleveland committing 18 first-half turnovers that turned into 28 Pacers points. Even still, the Cavs outscored Indiana 33-23 in the second frame behind 22 points in the paint, 12 from Sexton alone.

“Honestly, in the first half, (I) was just trying to do anything I can to will our team back into the game,” McConnell said of his record-setting performance.

The Blue & Gold did not miss a shot to start until the 7:55 mark of the game. A turnaround hook from Sabonis with 6:38 to play gave Indiana a brief 15-14 lead. However, Jarrett Allen’s and-one alley-oop layup pushed the Cavaliers back ahead by two. The finish started a 10-0 Cleveland run that extended the lead to 24-15 with 5:05 to play.

Then, McConnell checked in.

Playing in-sync with Edmond Sumner the squad tallied 13 unanswered points to take a 28-24 lead with 2:33 to go. McConnell collected four points, three steals, and three assists during the run, spotting Sumner for three consecutive buckets. But Cleveland would get the final buckets of the frame, tying the score at 28 before the second period began.

Five unanswered in 44 seconds, including a tough and-one finish from Jeremy Lamb, gave Indiana a 33-28 lead and early hope in the second. But the Cavs continued their push.

With the Pacers leading 35-30, Cleveland rattled off a 10-2 spree to grab a 40-37 lead on Sexton’s reverse layup with 7:53 remaining. Later, McConnell swiped his sixth steal of the half for an easy fast-break layup to pull within one, 42-41, with 6:21 to go. His seventh steal of the half then led to a Lamb layup that grabbed a one-point advantage for the Blue & Gold.

But Cleveland began finding success in the paint. A floater from Darius Garland, followed by a fast-break layup from Sexton, started a late 17-4 Cleveland run that pushed the hosts in front 59-47 with 51.9 seconds remaining. Indiana appeared to end the half on a high note by notching consecutive buckets, including Brogdon’s layup off McConnell’s ninth steal, to pull within eight, 59-51, with 15.2 seconds to go. However, a shooting foul on Lamb was called with 0.1 seconds left and held up upon review. Allen sank two free throws to push Cleveland’s lead to double digits before the break.

The Blue & Gold had hoped McConnell’s incredible first half would ignite the team’s defense from there. However, that was not the case early on. Three triples from three different Cavaliers pushed the Cavaliers’ lead to 72-58 by the 8:08 mark of the frame. An and-one finish from Garland then pushed their lead to 17, 77-60, with 7:24 to play.

After the Cavs held a comfortable lead for a spell, Myles Turner then provided some spark for Indiana.

The Texan connected on a three from the right wing and followed with a swat on the defensive end. He then tallied a put-back layup to cut Cleveland’s lead to 83-71 with 3:36 to go. The string of plays ignited a 10-0 Indiana run that cut the Cavs’ lead to 83-76 with 2:41 to play.

After Taurean Prince tallied a triple from the right corner, the squad recorded five more unanswered to trim the lead to four, 86-82, on Turner’s second trey of the period at the 1:23 mark. However, Cleveland managed to take a 90-82 lead into the final frame behind two late dunks from NBA veteran JaVale McGee.

After a cold start to the fourth, the Pacers managed to cut Cleveland’s lead to five, 92-87, with 8:56 to go. Less than a minute later, the squad trimmed the deficit to two after McConnell notched a layup and Domantas Sabonis connected on 1-of-2 free throws on consecutive offensive possessions. The All-Star added two more from the charity stripe at the 7:02 mark to pull within one.

With 6:36 to play, Indiana grabbed its first lead since the second quarter. Sumner picked off Cleveland’s inbound pass and finished on the other end to push the Pacers in front 96-95.

Tied at 99, Sabonis and Lamb scored on consecutive possessions to stretch the lead to four. After Allen hit a layup, McConnell drilled his eighth and final bucket of the night, a turnaround jumper in the paint, to keep Indiana’s lead at 105-101 with 4:19 to play. But, five straight points from Sexton pushed the Cavs back in from 106-105 with 2:25 to go.

Indiana then caught a break. Two over-and-back violations by Cleveland on consecutive possessions granted them extra opportunities. With 1:18 to play, Sabonis spotted Justin Holiday on the left wing for a triple. Despite struggling all night, he nailed it with ease, giving the Pacers the lead for good.

McConnell and Brogdon then carried Indiana to the victory. Beginning with his layup off McConnell’s steal, Brogdon notched the final six Pacers points. Leading 110-107, “the President” fired a 17-footer. It sank without a doubt and extended the Blue & Gold’s lead to five with 38.4 seconds remaining.

With 3.0 seconds remaining, Sexton fired off a trey, hoping to tie, but it was no good. Although Windler collected a bucket at the rim, Brogdon iced the game with one second left at the charity stripe.

Indiana takes on the Denver Nuggets tomorrow night to round out the first half of its season.

Inside the Numbers

Domantas Sabonis tallied 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, a team-high tying five boards, and six assists

After getting beat on the glass 26-6 in the first half, the Pacers out-rebounded the Cavaliers 21-17 in the second half

Indiana finished 47-of-83 (56.6 percent) from the floor. They are now 9-1 when shooting 50.0 percent or better

You Can Quote Me On That

“Obviously, a teammate told me at halftime that I had nine (steals). I’m not going to try to mess with the game and fiend for a steal. That’s just – I don’t really like to do that stuff. I just wanted to play with our defensive principles and let the game come to me.” –McConnell on falling one steal short of tying the NBA record for steals in a game

“It felt good. We haven’t been playing the way we want to as of late. We just tried to stay together and continue to play hard – hoping things would turn around – and they did. We never stopped playing. We didn’t start blaming each other. We just stayed together and stuck with our game.” – Lamb on the win

“T.J. was phenomenal tonight. That’s as good as a game that you’re going to see from a player – honestly in the NBA, that you’re going to see. He played at an extremely high level tonight. And, I think defensively, he was able to anchor us.” –Brogdon on McConnell’s performance

Stat of the Night

Per StatMuse, T.J. McConnell is the first player to record a triple-double with steals on 100 percent shooting since steals became official in 1973-74.


  • Indiana extended its winning streak against Cleveland to four games dating back to 2019.
  • The win pushes the Pacers’ road record back above .500. They are 9-8 away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse this year.
  • With the comeback effort, Indiana improves its record when trailing by halftime to 5-13.

Up Next

The Pacers return home to take on the Nuggets on the second night of a back-to-back on Thursday, Mar. 4 at 8:00 PM ET.


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