INDIANAPOLIS – Now LeBron and the Lakers have experienced T.J. Warren in the bubble.
One of the greatest 5-game runs in Pacers franchise history continued on Saturday night, with Warren pouring in 39 points, and clutch bucket after clutch bucket.
It was Warren and the Pacers out-closing LeBron and the Lakers for the 116-111 victory.
Just like he did last Saturday against the 76ers, Warren was hot from the start against the Lakers.
He had 18 points in the first quarter, but was held scoreless in the second. Still, Warren made sure he had more tricks for the best team in the Western Conference. That included 7 straight points in the final minutes to flip the lead and push Indiana to 4-1 in the bubble.
Warren did receive needed scoring punch from his backcourt mates on Saturday.
Victor Oladipo had some of his best play in Orlando with 22 points (9-of-17 shooting), 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Oladipo played a season-high 34 minutes.
Malcolm Brogdon scored 24 points, with 13 of those coming in the final quarter.
Indiana overcame 20 turnovers for the victory.
While LeBron was terrific with 31 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists, the Pacers should be more than commended for the job they did on Anthony Davis, who was held to 8 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
The Pacers have 3 games left in Orlando, and will next play on Monday at 8:00 PM against the Heat.
Three Things Learned
-T.J. Warren Does It Again: What more can you say about the incredible run from T.J. Warren. This has been one of the greatest individual weeks of basketball in Pacers franchise history. Warren poured in 18 points in Saturday’s first quarter, and then delivered with 7 straight points in the closing minutes to do it against the Lakers, just like he did last week versus the 76ers. One thing that should be noted about Warren is that the Pacers have provided him a standard and culture of expected postseason appearances that he never sniffed in Phoenix. That sort of environment has provided the opportunity to continue to grow his game and prove he could do it on a playoff caliber team. Warren staying healthy this season—something that frequently stunted his development in Phoenix—has also played a massive role.
-Making The Plays In Crunch Time: The Lakers have nothing to play for in terms of playoff seeding (they clinched the 1 seed out West earlier in the week). But you wouldn’t know it when seeing the lineup Frank Vogel used in the game’s final 5 minutes. Vogel put LeBron James back in the game, and closed things out with LBJ and Anthony Davis. And when the Lakers took the lead back, it looked like Pacers would be heading for a second straight loss. Well, T.J. Warren had other things in mind. Yes, Warren was incredible, but the Pacers as a team deserve credit for various guys making enough plays to out-close LeBron and AD. That has to be a confidence boost to Indiana moving forward. In the regular season, it was often the two-man game of Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis doing the closing. Now, the Pacers must improvise a bit late and they did that beautifully on Saturday against the Lakers big guns.
-Turner’s Foul Trouble: Just like last Saturday against the 76ers, Myles Turner was on the bench very early in the first quarter thanks to a pair of fouls. Turner’s defensive presence/ability to stay on the floor in Orlando hasn’t been where the Pacers need it to be. The drop from Turner to JaKarr Sampson or Goga Bitadze on the defensive end of the floor is huge, so Turner must realize how important he is and avoid those foul issues early on. We know the Pacers are struggling in the rebounding department in Orlando. It’s so critical that Turner is able to play normal starting minutes, so the Pacers don’t have to go into scramble mode so early at the center position.
Pacers Regular Season Re-Start Schedule
-Heat, 8/10 (Monday), 8:00 PM
-Rockets, 8/12 (Wednesday), 4:00 PM
-Heat, 8/14 (Friday), TBD
Current Eastern Conference Standings
1. Milwaukee (55-14)
2. Toronto (49-19), 5.5 games back
3. Boston (46-23), 9.0 games back
4. Miami (43-26), 12.0 games back
5. Indiana (43-27), 12.5 games back
6. Philadelphia (42-27), 13.0 games back
7. Brooklyn (33-36), 22.0 games back
8. Orlando (32-38), 22.5 games back