Nobody expected the Pacers to play their most complete game of the season on Tuesday, a blowout win over the Hornets in the play-in tournament.
The list of the surprised may have even included the Pacers themselves.
They had lost standout guard Caris LeVert earlier in the day, the victim of the league’s health ad safety protocols. LeVert is expected to be out 10 days to two weeks. So who knows if he’ll play again this season.
Then again, if the Pacers can continue to perform the way they did Tuesday … well, the possibilities may be endless.
“Everybody got going,” said guard Malcolm Brogdon, who scored 16 points in his first game since April 29. “It’s the best when all your teammates get to score and have fun. I thought we had fun tonight and that was the best part.”
It truly was a balanced effort all the way around, and getting Brogdon back only helped. Brogdon ever gets the press he deserves, bringing to mind a do-it-all type reminiscent of Andre Miller or even the late Dennis Johnson.
But clearly, the Pacers are more than Brogdon. They’re more than LeVert. They’re more than even Domantas Sabonis, who again put together another fantastic stat line — 14 points, 21 rebounds and nine assists.
“He’s a point forward and sometimes when you’re a point guard you have to score more and sometimes you have to assist more and make the right plays,” coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “That’s what I thought he was doing tonight. He was passing, hitting cutters, making the right play. He wants to make the right play.”
NBA surprise Oshae Brissett (23 points) Doug McDermott (21 ), T.J. McConnell (17), Aaron Holiday and Goga Bitadze (14 apiece) all did their part. Same goes for Justin Holiday (12 points, five assists).
Basically, everyone did their part and it was a team effort in the truest sense.
Now, the Pacers have to do it again, this time against the Wizards, who lost to the Celtics. Indiana will have to win to stay alive.
But the Pacers showed that maybe they have a chance, after all.
“They played like a veteran group,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “They played like a tougher group that had been here before. They weren’t fazed by the moment.”