INDIANAPOLIS – Leave it to a night when the Pacers (23-27) are down 4 of their 5 starters to finally win at home.
Of course, playing the worst team in the NBA helps.
Still, with Indiana having T.J. Warren, Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner all sidelined, they had one of their finest offensive performances of the season, outscoring the Timberwolves 141-137.
Indiana shot 59.1 percent from the floor, 50 percent from behind the arc and 89.5 percent from the foul line.
Up and down the roster the Pacers received contributions on this back-to-back at home.
Brothers Aaron and Justin Holiday led the scoring with 22 and 21 points respectively. Goga Bitadze was thrust into starting duty and scored a career-high 14 points in 25 minutes. JaKarr Sampson added 16 points off the bench, as the Pacers really only had 2 big guys all night long.
It was a corner three by T.J. McConnell which iced the game with less than 20 seconds to play. McConnell was outstanding, scoring 19 points and dishing out 15 assists.
Minnesota (13-39) was led by Karl-Anthony Towns’ 32 points. No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards had 27 points.
Nate Bjorkgren’s team led after each quarter and held on in the final period for the much-needed victory.
The Pacers (23-27) will now be on the road for five of their next six games.
Three Things Learned
1. Career Night For Goga: We’ll get more into this below, but all these injuries have opened up opportunities for younger Pacers. Goga Bitadze took full advantage of that on Wednesday. Bitadze scored a career-high 14 in 25 minutes and did a decent job on Karl-Anthony Towns. Without Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, this was an outstanding chance for Bitadze to get consistent clock. One of the definite positives this season has been a little bit more progress from Bitadze. If he continues to show that the rest of the way, it could make for an interesting decision for the Pacers this offseason (in how they handle the future of Turner/Sabonis).
2. Injuries Starting To Pile Up: It’s not an excuse. It’s reality. The injuries of the Indiana Pacers are really starting to pile up. Consider on Wednesday, they were playing without 4 starters due to injury (Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner). Nate Bjorkgren has not been dealt a good hand at all injury wise. And it doesn’t sound like the return of Turner is imminent. Outside of the injury to Warren, the other three have come up here as of late and is making that climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture even more difficult. The only positive of this situation is it’s allowing for more run/development when talking about youngsters of Aaron Holiday, Edmond Sumner and Goga Bitadze.
3. Ugly, Ugly Home Mark: Things I never thought I’d be typing this year: With a month to go in the regular season, the Indiana Pacers have the worst home record in the Eastern Conference. It has to be the most disappointing aspect to this season. Sure, homecourt advantage is not the same as it normally is given the smaller crowds across the NBA, but every team is dealing with some hinderance in this area. At 9-15, it’s the homecourt record that is contributing the most to this team hovering around a handful of games below .500. With a 14-12 record on the road, the Pacers have one of the better road marks in the East this year. Some good news, perhaps, with 5 of their next 6 on the road.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-@Magic (Friday, 4/9, at 7:00 PM)
-@Grizzlies (Sunday, 4/11, at 8:00 PM)
-Clippers (Tuesday, 4/13, at 7:30 PM)
-@Rockets (Wednesday, 4/14, at 9:00 PM)
-@Jazz (Friday, 4/19, at 3:00 PM)