Monday, Nov. 21 at 7:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse
Someone alert DJ Khaled because lately all the Pacers do is win.
Buoyed by a balanced scoring attack and even an unexpected sharpshooting display from TJ McConnell, Indiana (10-6) handled Orlando (5-13) on Monday night at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, 123-102.
With the victory, the Pacers swept a two-game set with the Magic, won their fifth straight contest overall, and picked up their ninth victory in their last 11 outings.
Bennedict Mathurin led the Blue & Gold with 22 points on the night, going 6-for-13 from the field and 8-for-10 from the free throw line. Tyrese Haliburton chipped in 18 points and 14 assists despite sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
Those two are accustomed to carrying Indiana’s offense by this point, but McConnell decided to get in on the fun on Monday. The diminutive, defensive-minded backup guard entered the night 0-for-4 from 3-point range over his first 14 games. But he knocked down his first three 3-point attempts on Monday, the highlight of a stat-sheet stuffing performance that included 19 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, and three steals.
“I work on it so much,” McConnell said of his shot. “I passed up quite a few of them because I think we can get a better shot, but the way they were playing me, I just let it fly.
“I have to keep letting it fly. I put in too many hours in the gym. Credit to (assistant) coach Jenny (Boucek) and (player development coach) Jannero Pargo and everyone that’s been in the gym with me.”
The Pacers got to the rim early, scoring their first four baskets at the rim while racing out to an early 9-1 lead.
Indiana led 21-14 seven minutes into the contest following a dunk by Jalen Smith and a three-point play from Mathurin. But Orlando pushed back with a 12-2 run, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Jalen Suggs and Gary Harris.
The Pacers briefly retook the lead following Isaiah Jackson’s layup in the final minute, but two Franz Wagner free throws on the other end gave the visitors a 28-27 lead after one.
The two teams traded the lead three times early in the ensuing frame before the Blue & Gold eventually put together a run. McConnell buried his first 3-pointer of the season from the right wing with 5:01 remaining in the first half. Haliburton and Oshae Brissett added threes of their own in a 13-6 spurt that pushed the Pacers’ lead to double digits.
Indiana led by nine as the final seconds ticked away in the first half. Magic guard RJ Hampton swished in a three as the buzzer sounded, but he was a half-second late getting off the shot in time and the Pacers headed to halftime with a 54-45 advantage.
Indiana preserved their lead throughout the third quarter, which featured several inspired plays. Pacers center Myles Turner blocked three shots in a four-minute span, the final one denying Kevon Harris’ dunk attempt and triggering a break where Haliburton found Aaron Nesmith for an open three.
A short while later, McConnell drilled another trey, Haliburton knifed through the lane and converted a three-point play, and Mathurin knocked down a triple on three consecutive possessions to extend the Pacers’ lead to 77-61.
As the clock ticked under a minute in the third quarter, Mathurin threw a skip pass from the top of the key to McConnell in the left corner. The eighth-year veteran drilled it once again for his third triple of the night, sending the Indiana bench into hysterics.
With McConnell’s unlikely shooting spree leading the way, the Pacers took a commanding 86-67 lead into the fourth quarter. Brissett’s three a little over a minute into the final frame pushed the lead to 22 and the Blue & Gold cruised to victory, holding out multiple starters for the entire fourth quarter and emptying the bench with plenty of time to spare.
Brissett finished with 18 points off the bench in the win, going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Jackson finished with 10 points and eight boards, while Turner chipped in 10 points, five rebounds, and three blocks.
The Pacers, a popular pick to finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings in the media’s preseason predictions, currently have the fifth-best record in the NBA.
“We’ve just got good people who are great teammates and want the next guy to succeed,” McConnell said. “We do that at a high level, make the extra pass and (cover) for each other on defense. And we’ve got a lot of young guys who get out and run. I think we just kind of take people by surprise. “
Wagner led Orlando with 20 points and six rebounds in the loss, going 6-for-11 from the field and 8-for-10 from the charity stripe. Indianapolis native Harris added 18 points off the bench for the Magic, going 3-for-6 from 3-point range.
The Pacers have two games remaining on a four-game homestand. Indiana will host Minnesota on Wednesday and Brooklyn on Friday before embarking on a seven-game West Coast road trip, the franchise’s longest road trip since 1986.
Inside the Numbers
Mathurin topped 20 points for the seventh time in his first 16 NBA games.
Haliburton recorded his fifth double-double in his past seven games and his 10th overall — the most of any guard in the NBA this season.
Brissett’s 18 points were a season high. He has reached double figures in two of his last three contests and gone 11-for-18 from 3-point range over his last four contests.
McConnell recorded his 16th double-double of his career and his ninth as a Pacer. Monday was his first double-double since Nov. 1, 2021.
You Can Quote Me On That
“The second unit really gave us a lift. (TJ) and Oshae and even Benn were able to come in and make some shots. That was big for us. I tell TJ all the time, if you feel right shoot it, if you don’t, pass it up and just play your game.” -Haliburton
“When everyone feels good, we all feel good as a team. That’s what it’s all about. I know that my shots are going to come because we have great point guards and guys that look out for each other.” – Brissett
“We know there’s a lot of guys that can have a big night. Aaron (Nesmith) last game, he had a great night. TJ had a great night tonight. We feel like everybody can make plays.” – Mathurin
“Last year on her birthday I had a donut, zero points. I wore the same shoes tonight that I did last year. I was like I’m going to do better this time. I would have had like 20 assists if Buddy would have made some shots today…It was exciting to come out here. My mom sits courtside for a lot of games. Amazing feeling to do that tonight and looking forward to being with her tomorrow.” -Haliburton on having a big night ahead of his mom’s birthday on Tuesday
Stat of the Night
With Mathurin, McConnell, and Brissett leading the way, the Pacers’ bench outscored Orlando’s reserves, 71-46.
- Pacers rookie guard Andrew Nembhard missed his first game of the season due to an injury on Monday with a bruised left knee.
- Indiana is now 7-0 on the season when six Pacers reach double figures.
- The Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Pacers’ G League affiliate, were honored at Monday’s game. Head coach Tom Hankins revved the Indy Car engine on the court just before tipoff and the entire team — including two-way players Kendall Brown and Trevelin Queen — was honored during a timeout.
The Pacers continue their homestand by hosting Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>