I don’t like to brag, but I did say before the game that if the Pacers were going to steal one from the Thunder in OKC they won’t get a better opportunity than the first game after the All-Star break.
I didn’t really believe they’d do it, especially not after they fell behind by 7 points with less than 3 minutes to go.
But then good fortune finally struck, and then George Hill hit a three, Monta hit a three, Myles Turner hit the first three-pointer of his career, and then Monta hit a contested step-back three that would have made Pacers fans cringe again had it missed.
And just like that, the Pacers roared back to stun the Thunder, 101-98, despite a season-low 8 points from a bench that didn’t have Rodney Stuckey again and lost CJ Miles to a stomach virus (Jordan Hill wasn’t 100% either).
Monta was the MVP of the game with 27 points on 10-16 shooting, while PG had 21 and a season-high 10 assists after scoring 41 in the All-Star game. George Hill was the unsung hero with 9, 11 and 9, narrowly missing a triple-double, while Ian Mahinmi had his best game as a Pacer with a career-high-tying 19 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Oh, and that 19-year-old who hit his first three-pointer in the NBA? He had 16 points and a career-high 6 blocks. Myles Turner is now averaging 10.1 points a game to go with 5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks, with a PER of 18.07. The kid keeps impressing, and it’s getting to the point where you have to start wondering just how much better he can get. If the 2015 draft was to have a do-over right now, it’s hard to imagine he’d be picked outside the top 5. In fact, outside of Karl Anthony-Towns, Turner currently has the highest PIE (Player Impact Estimate) among qualified players, ahead of the likes of Kristaps Porzingis and Jahlil Okafor.
After the game, coach Frank Vogel said he hoped it would be a “springboard” game for the team to build on for the rest of the season. They’ve got a lot of road games coming up, and if they’re still hanging in the playoff race by March 13, the team should be in decent shape given that 11 of their last 16 games are at home.
Next up, a Florida double with the Orlando Magic and then the Miami Heat.