INDIANAPOLIS – Malcolm Brogdon couldn’t legally drive a car the last time the Indiana Pacers won a game in Portland.
The Pacers won their first game in Portland since 2007 on Thursday night, with a dominant second quarter being the difference.
It was a 33-10 second period that had the Pacers (8-4) leading by double-digits for nearly the rest of the game, finishing with a 111-87 victory over the Trailblazers (7-5).
With Caris LeVert yet to join the Pacers following the trade of Victor Oladipo, Malcolm Brogdon led Indiana with 25 points and 7 assists. Domantas Sabonis had yet another double-double with 23 points and 15 rebounds.
Knowing that Portland was playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Pacers revved up that energy with their reserve group.
The bench trio of T.J. McConnell, Aaron Holiday and Doug McDermott produced a plus/minus of plus 20 and totally changed the game for a runaway Pacers’ win.
Defensively, Indiana was outstanding for a second straight game.
It was Edmond Sumner (again starting at shooting guard) and Malcolm Brogdon getting the difficult defensive assignments of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. That explosive Portland duo had just 22 points apiece.
While the Trailblazers made a bit of a run in the third quarter, the Pacers quickly stymied it with the benches emptying around the 4-minute mark of the 4th quarter.
The LeVert/Oladipo trade still needs to be finalized, so the Pacers were down another player on Thursday.
The Pacers conclude their western conference road trip on Sunday night against the Clippers.
Three Things Learned
1. Controlling Lillard, McCollum: When you hold NBA teams to 95 and 87 points on consecutive nights, it’s an accomplishment. That’s especially the case when you are facing Stephen Curry and the Warriors, and then Damian Lillard/C.J. McCollum and the Trailblazers. On Thursday, the Pacers again had Edmond Sumner in the starting lineup and he now looks like a trustworthy defensive option when facing some of these higher-level guards. Lillard and McCollum each scored just 22 points, which is a major win for any team. Malcolm Brogdon also had one of the big defensive assignments and he did that job while also being the catalyst on the other end of the floor, with 25 points and 7 assists.
2. Dad T.J. McConnell Still Full Of Energy: Wait, wasn’t T.J. McConnell changing diapers and getting no sleep back in Indy just a few days ago? You wouldn’t know it having seen McConnell back on the court on Thursday night. McConnell, who became a father for the first time last week, returned to the Pacers for Thursday’s game against Portland and was up to his tricks. McConnell entered the game late in the first quarter and immediately impacted things. While the plus/minus stat can get a little screwy, McConnell being a +21 was indicative of what he meant to this game. He finished with 4 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 steals, and brought an energy level against a team playing on the second night of a back-to-back wanting zero part of it.
3. Suns Game Cancelled: The first COVID scheduling impact of the 2020-21 season has hit the Pacers. Saturday’s road game in Phoenix has forced the Suns/Pacers game to be cancelled, with the Suns having contract tracing issues and a limited number of guys available. Many were looking forward to a Pacers/Suns rematch after the two played a high scoring game (Suns win) last Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. For the Pacers though, it’s a good thing. It lessens this road trip by one game and it also removes a back-to-back from the schedule, with the Pacers now having two nights off between the Trailblazers game and facing the Clippers on Sunday, in closing out the longest road trip of the season. Thursday’s win, and this news, means the Pacers will at least go .500 on this 4-game road trip.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-@Clippers (Sunday, 1-7, at 10:00 PM)
-Mavericks (Wednesday, 1-20, at 7:00 PM)
-Magic (Friday, 1-22, at 7:00 PM)
-Raptors (Sunday, 1-24, at 3:00 PM)
-Raptors (Monday, 1-25, at 7:00 PM)