The Phoenix Suns traded small forward T.J. Warren to the Indiana Pacers during the offseason for cash considerations.
For the Pacers, it was a steal of epic proportions. Warren (18.2 ppg) has been Indiana’s leading scorer in the absence of All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. Warren is one of the best shot creators in recent Pacers team history and simply put, he has been a vital cog in Indiana’s 29-16 campaign.
As for the Suns (18-26), they could be kicking themselves for letting Warren go. They could’ve been a much better team with him around.
Warren scored 25 points (on 11-of-18 shooting) in Indiana’s 112-87 rout of Phoenix at Talking Stick Arena on January 22. It was sweet vindication for him, to say the least.
The Suns kept it close in the first half. Behind the exploits of Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, Phoenix trailed Indiana at halftime, 54-48.
Another Great Second Half for the Pacers Threw Shade on the Suns
However, it was all Pacers in the second half. The key was the third quarter – Indiana outscored Phoenix 29-17 during that stretch to pull away for good. Warren scored nine points in the third quarter.
Domantas Sabonis complemented Warren perfectly. He had a double-double for the Pacers with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
Kelly Oubre, Jr. led Phoenix with 17 points and nine rebounds. Indiana limited the Suns’ leading scorer, Devin Booker (27.0 ppg), to just 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting. Booker also had four turnovers.
Indiana Beats Depleted Golden State in Shootout
T.J. Warren is on a roll.
Warren, who scored 25 points in his successful return to Phoenix two days earlier, scored 33 points to lead the Pacers (30-16) to a 129-118 win over the injury-riddled Golden State Warriors (10-37) on January 24.
The Warriors double-teamed big man Domantas Sabonis down low every chance they got. Warren was one of the primary recipients of Sabonis’ eight assists, scoring 21 points in the first half.
The other was sixth man Doug McDermott, whose four triples in the fourth quarter kept Golden State at bay. He finished with a season-high 24 points off the bench.
The Warriors had an early 19-10 lead. Point guard D’Angelo Russell scored eight of his game-high 37 points during that spurt. However, Warren and Aaron Holiday made baskets from the perimeter to give the Pacers the lead, 24-22.
Indiana held Golden State to 21 points in the second quarter to take a commanding 69-51 lead at halftime. However, the Warriors fought back in the third quarter. Russell’s torrid shooting helped Golden State close the gap to five, 83-78.
Two minutes later, Holiday made two triples in a span of a minute to give the Pacers the lead for good. This set the stage for McDermott’s fourth-quarter explosion.
Sabonis finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers. Jeremy Lamb also had 16 points while T.J. McConnell, who started for the injured Malcolm Brogdon (he injured his forehead during the Suns game), had 12 points and eight assists.
The Warriors have been playing without injured All-Stars Klay Thompson (knee) and Stephen Curry (hand). Former Pacer Glenn Robinson III had 18 points and seven rebounds in a losing effort.
Pacers Rally to Beat Undermanned Nuggets on the Road
On the night the NBA mourned the death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard went off. Lillard scored 50 points and recorded 13 assists in the Blazers’ 139-129 win over the visiting Pacers at the Moda Center on January 26.
With the win, Portland improved to 20-27. Despite the loss, Indiana remained the fifth seed in the East with a 30-17 record.
The Pacers led 5-4 after Jeremy Lamb’s three-point play with barely two minutes gone by in the first quarter. They never led again.
After Lamb’s and 1, Lillard made the first of his eight three-pointers. Indiana’s point guard duo of T.J. McConnell and Aaron Holiday couldn’t stop him all game long.
Portland led at halftime, 66-56. The Blazers’ lead ballooned to 20, 100-180, after Lillard made a driving layup with 3:53 left in the third quarter.
Doug McDermott’s three closed the gap to seven, 121-114. However, Lillard scored seven consecutive points to give the Blazers a 15-point lead with 4:22 remaining in the game.
Shooting guard C.J. McCollum, who missed the last three games with an ankle injury, scored 28 points for Portland. Center Hassan Whiteside added 21 points, 14 rebounds, and six blocks.
Lamb led the Pacers with 28 points. Domantas Sabonis finished with a triple-double (27 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists) for Indiana. McDermott added 19 points (6-of-8 three-point shooting) off the bench.
Aside from Malcolm Brogdon (concussion protocol), the Pacers missed the services of center Myles Turner due to an illness.
Pacers Odds Trend Up in Victor Oladipo’s Return vs. Chicago Bulls
The Indiana Pacers welcome the visiting Chicago Bulls in Victor Oladipo’s much-anticipated return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on January 29.
Oladipo ruptured the quad tendon in his right knee during a home game against the Toronto Raptors on January 23, 2019. He will take the court again after a hiatus of more than one year. Prior to his season-ending injury, Oladipo averaged 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 5.2 assists.
Should starting point guard Malcom Brogdon (concussion protocol) and center Myles Turner (illness) play, it will be the first time the Pacers (30-17) have a complete lineup this season.
As for the Bulls (19-30), they will miss the services of small forward Otto Porter, Jr. (foot), Lauri Markkanen (pelvis), Daniel Gafford (thumb), and Wendell Carter, Jr. (ankle).
Pacers odds, Pacers moneyline, and Pacers over/under favor Indiana because of its superior record and healthier lineup.
A victory over the decimated Bulls should make Victor Oladipo’s return a triumphant one.