Sunday's loss to Toronto didn't sit well with Malcolm Brogdon. The Pacers point guard had a season-low 12 points on 5-of-22 shooting (1-of-10 from 3-point range) with four turnovers in a 117-112 loss, including a crucial turnover in the final minute.
Brogdon was so perturbed he called up Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren twice on the phone on Sunday evening to discuss the loss and what the team could do better in Monday's rematch with the Raptors. He then promised his coach that he would lead the charge.
Brogdon did just that, setting a new career high with 36 points as Indiana (10-7) led much of the night and pulled away down the stretch for a 129-114 win to split a two-game set with the Raptors (7-10).
The fifth-year point guard went 10-for-17 from the field, 3-for-5 from 3-point range, and 13-for-14 from the free throw line while also grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out nine assists.
"Honestly, I was pretty angry after last game," Brogdon said. "I was incredibly locked in for today's game. I really wanted to make a point.
"It drove me crazy last night and this morning until I got back on that court. Back-to-back or not, tired or not, I was ready to give it my all tonight."
Jeremy Lamb, playing just his fourth game and his first back-to-back after an 11-month absence after tearing the ACL in his left knee, added 22 points and seven rebounds off the bench, going 7-for-12 from the field, 3-for-6 from beyond the arc, and 5-for-5 from the charity stripe.
"I had a long rehab," Lamb said. "I've been training for 11 months for this exact time, for this moment."
Those contributions helped the Pacers overcome the loss of All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis, who left late in the first quarter with a left knee contusion and did not return.
After a rough offensive outing on Sunday, the Pacers were firing on all cylinders early on Monday night. The Blue & Gold went 6-for-7 from 3-point range and had 11 assists on 12 field goals in the first quarter.
Brogdon and Sabonis combined for just 22 points on 6-of-32 shooting on Sunday, but Indiana's two leading scorers combined for 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the opening frame on Monday. They combined for eight points during a 14-4 run that gave Indiana a 31-23 lead before Toronto closed the quarter with a 7-2 spurt to trim the hosts' lead to three.
The Pacers, however, received a tough break when Sabonis headed to the locker room after the first quarter with a left knee contusion. After an evaluation, the All-Star forward was ruled out for the night. Bjorkgren said after the game that Sabonis will undergo further examination on Tuesday.
Bjorkgren went to his bench in the second quarter, opening the frame with five reserves and adding a sixth when he subbed in rookie Cassius Stanley for Edmond Sumner after the latter picked up his second foul. Lamb gave Indiana some big minutes off the bench, hitting all four of his shots and scoring 10 points in the second quarter.
The bench pushed the lead as high as eight points and the starters stretched it to double digits after they returned. Brogdon scored or assisted on Indiana's final six field goals as the Pacers took a 70-60 advantage into the intermission.
Lamb hit a 3-pointer for the first points of the second half, but the Raptors subsequently reeled off 11 unanswered — the final point in that stretch coming after Bjorkgren picked up a technical after objecting to a no-call on a Brogdon drive.
Toronto eventually tied the game at 86 on Yuta Watanabe's 3-pointer with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter, but Lamb answered with a trey of his own to spark a 7-0 Pacers run. The Raptors closed the quarter with an 11-5 surge to trim Indiana's lead to 98-97 entering the fourth quarter.
The Raptors moved in front for the first time since the first quarter on Kyle Lowry's layup with 9:46 to play, but Indiana held them scoreless over the next three minutes of game time, scoring eight straight to take a 108-102 lead.
Brogdon and Myles Turner combined for 17 of 19 points for Indiana (eight of them coming at the free throw line) as the Pacers kept the Raptors at bay. T.J. McConnell's jumper off a dish from Brogdon snapped that streak and gave Indiana a 10-point lead with 1:50 to play, effectively sealing the victory.
"I thought our guys were in a nice mode out there," Bjorkgren said after the win. "The flow of the game, the way that we were attacking, it just was constant."
Turner scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. He went 5-for-9 from the field and 11-for-16 from the free throw line, pulled down 10 rebounds, and added three blocks to his league-leading total.
Sabonis had 11 points and three rebounds before leaving the game, while third-year guard Aaron Holiday and second-year center Goga Bitadze added 10 points apiece off the bench.
Fred VanVleet had a team-high 25 points to go along with four rebounds and six assists for Toronto, while Norman Powell added 24 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
Raptors All-Star guard Lowry returned to the floor on Monday after sitting out Sunday's game with a toe infection. Lowry had 12 points, but was just 2-for-12 from the field and was ejected after arguing with the refs in the closing minutes of the contest.
The Pacers will now hit the road for two straight games in Charlotte before returning to Indianapolis to host Joel Embiid and the East-leading Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.
Inside the Numbers
The Pacers shattered their previous season highs for free throws made and attempted, going 37-for-45 from the charity stripe. Their previous highs of 21 free throws made and 29 attempted were both set in the season opener against New York on Dec. 23.
Brogdon has topped 30 points three times this season, setting a new career high each time. He had 33 points on Jan. 2 against the Knicks, 35 points four nights later against the Rockets, and then 36 on Monday.
Turner has surpassed 20 points in four of his past five games, recording three of his four double-doubles over that span.
Indiana set new season highs for points in the first half (70) and total points (129).
McConnell had nine points, nine assists, and five rebounds off the bench, setting or matching his season highs in each of those categories.
You Can Quote Me On That
"We were in attack mode all night. I know Malcolm really wanted to assert himself after his performance last game. He came to me before the game and said, 'I got you tonight.' He went out there and performed and he carried us." -Turner on Brogdon
"He said it to me after the game last night that he was upset with things and was going to play a lot better today. He said it to me before the walkthrough that he was upset that it didn't go our way (yesterday). He did, he came in with a good focus. I thought his finishes around the rim were great. I thought his decisions being that point guard were great. And he was in attack mode the entire evening." -Bjorkgren on Brogdon
"I just know when someone goes down, someone else has to step up, especially with the production that Domas gives us. I just put my head down and was being aggressive, as aggressive as possible, and got to the free throw line a lot." -Turner on his mentality after Sabonis got hurt
"I thought Myles was and has been honestly playing like an All-Star. Not only will he be the Defensive Player of the Year, but he's been playing at an All-Star level. Having Myles' ability to be mobile and shoot the ball, to roll and finish around their bigs, to make free throws, to make good decisions, and then of course everything he does on defense, he was terrific tonight." -Brogdon on Turner
"I tried to work hard and get my body right to where when I did get back I'd play well...Thankfully, shots have been going in, I've been able to get to the free throw line a little bit. My teammates set great screens so I can get to the rim and they find me on kick-outs. It's not all just me. I feel like my teammates are genuinely happy for me and trying to help me succeed." -Lamb on his strong play since returning to the court
Stat of the Night
The Pacers scored a season-best 54 bench points on Monday, 19 more than their previous season high. Three reserves finished in double figures as Indiana's bench outscored the Raptors' reserves by 20.
- Monday's victory snapped a four-game losing streak for the Pacers against Toronto.
- Sabonis' injury ended his streak of 16 straight games with a double-double to start the season, tied with Mose Malone (1981-82) for the fourth-longest streak to open a season since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976.
- Raptors All-Star forward Pascal Siakam missed his second straight game with knee soreness.
- Bjorkgren picked up his first career technical, while Lowry, Chris Boucher, and Raptors coach Nick Nurse all collected one technical for Toronto.
The Pacers travel to Charlotte for the first of two straight against Gordon Hayward and the Hornets on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 7:00 PM ET.
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