Game Rewind: Pacers 121, Wizards 106
Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Coming off an overtime road loss, playing on the second night of a back-to-back, and down another starter, one might have expected the Pacers to come out with low energy on Wednesday night against the Wizards.
Instead, Indiana (4-4) pushed the tempo, strung together some impressive runs, and got contributions from up and down the roster on its way to a 121-106 victory over Washington (2-5) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"The ball movement was great," Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said after the victory. "We talked about trusting each other ...That's how we have to play. If a guy is open, get him the ball and trust your teammate to make the right read.
"Tonight we did that."
Already without starting center Myles Turner due to a sprained right ankle, the Pacers also did not have starting guard Jeremy Lamb on Wednesday after he sprained his left ankle in Tuesday's loss in Charlotte.
But while Lamb was in street clothes, 6-11 forward Domantas Sabonis returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with a calf contusion and gave the Pacers a nice early boost. Sabonis tallied four points and five rebounds in the first quarter, which ended with the score tied at 26.
Indiana's bench provided a spark at the start of the second quarter. The Blue & Gold's reserves reeled off a 14-5 run — capped by a trio of 3-pointers in quick succession from Goga Bitadze, Doug McDermott, and Justin Holiday.
McDermott kept firing, drilling four 3-pointers on his way to 15 points in the second quarter alone. It was part of an Indiana onslaught, as the Pacers erupted for 44 points in the frame to open up a 70-62 lead.
"They were playing a 2-3 zone," McDermott said. "I thought we did a good job of attacking the middle and I was able to get some open looks. Goga as well.
"If they're going to play zone, we have a lot of shooters...we feel like we can exploit that pretty well."
Fellow reserve T.J. McConnell also gave a nice lift with his scrappy play. McConnell tallied six points, three rebounds, five assists, and a steal in the first half and was seemingly everywhere on the court. On one notable play, Malcolm Brogdon missed a jumper, but the 6-1 McConnell came flying in from the perimeter, outleaping 6-8 Wizards forward Rui Hachimura to tip the ball back into the basket.
Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas drilled a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the second half, but it was all Pacers from there. Indiana reeled off 11 unanswered points and ultimately compiled a 22-2 run to blow the game open.
JaKarr Sampson, making his third straight start at power forward, was sensational in that stretch, running the floor with abandon and tallying 10 points on four layups and a baseline jumper.
"We have a lot of people that can put the ball in the hole, so my mindset is defense," Sampson said. "It just happened that my offense got going today. I was in the right spots at the right time."
Indiana led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter, though Washington closed the frame with an 11-0 run to trim the deficit to 94-80 heading into the fourth.
A Davis Bertans 3-pointer 30 seconds into the final frame made it an 11-point game, but that's when Aaron Holiday came to the rescue. The second-year guard — starting for the injured Lamb — drilled a trey on back-to-back possessions to push the lead back to 17 and allow the home crowd a sigh of relief.
Washington mounted one more charge, climbing within 10 with five minutes to play, but that would be the closest they would get.
Seven Pacers scored in double figures in the victory. McDermott finished with a season-high 19 points, going 4-for-6 from 3-point range and also tallying seven rebounds and four assists. T.J. Warren added a team-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, while Aaron Holiday finished with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting (3-of-5 from 3-point range) in his first career start.
Sabonis fouled out after 28 minutes, but before tallying 13 points, 17 rebounds, and seven assists. Sampson added 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting, Bitadze chipped in 13 points off the bench, and Brogdon recorded another double-double with 12 points and 13 assists.
"I think players are starting to trust each other more," Sabonis said. "Coach always says if there's a guy open, you pass it to him 100 times (out of 100). We're building our trust together and we're playing with confidence."
All-Star guard Bradley Beal had a game-high 30 points for Washington, while Thomas Bryant added 20 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.
Indiana will return to The Fieldhouse on Friday, when they host the Detroit Pistons at 7:00 PM ET. The Pacers will be out for revenge as they've already dropped two games to the Pistons this season, an Opening Night loss at The Fieldhouse on Oct. 23 and another defeat in Detroit on Oct. 28.
Photo Credit: Matt Kryger
Inside the Numbers
McDermott reached double figures for the first time this season. His four 3-pointers matched his career high at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, set on Oct. 20, 2018 against Brooklyn.
With McDermott and Bitadze leading the way, Indiana set a season high with 43 bench points.
Brogdon had double-digit assists for the fifth time in eight games this season. Prior to this year, Brogdon had just three career games with 10 or more assists.
The Pacers outscored Washington 24-15 in fastbreak points and also tallied 28 points off 17 Wizards turnovers.
Sabonis matched his career high with 17 rebounds, a mark he set just five days ago in a win over Cleveland.
You Can Quote Me On That
"Just to go out and play like I do every day, every game. Just try to play hard, help my team win, knock down shots and play defense." -Aaron Holiday on his mindset heading into his first career start
"We don't give out game balls, but if we gave out a game ball, I would give it to Aaron. I thought he was solid with his play at both ends of the floor." -McMillan
"It just shows our maturity. I feel like we're clicking, we're getting a feel for each other's tendencies. That's big for us, to lose a game like that, and then refocus off a back-to-back and pull up a win." -Sampson on bouncing back after Tuesday's loss
"We don't have the experience to dig holes and be able to approach the game, to sort of feel it out. We have too many guys that are learning their habits, they're learning their way on how to do things. We have to approach every game one way and that's all-out." -Wizards forward C.J. Miles
Stat of the Night
The Pacers had a season-high 35 assists on 44 field goals in Wednesday's win.
- The Pacers have now won their last three games against the Wizards in Indianapolis.
- Second-year forward Alize Johnson made his season debut, logging eight minutes off the bench and finishing with two points on 1-of-2 shooting and one rebound.
- Wednesday marked the 20th anniversary of the opening of The Fieldhouse. Fans could buy $20 tickets in select areas to the game and a special halftime ceremony with former mayor Stephen Goldsmith and Pacers Sports & Entertainment President and COO Rick Fuson looked back on the building's two decades of history.
The Pacers welcome Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons at Bankers Life Fiedhouse on Friday, Nov. 8 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »
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