CHARLOTTE, N.C. – With the 2018 NBA Playoffs just around the corner, the Indiana Pacers (48-33) saw one of their young stars break out right on cue.
Second-year center Domantas Sabonis scored a career-high 30 points, in addition to pulling down eight rebounds, in Indy’s 123-117 win over the Charlotte Hornets (35-46). Victor Oladipo joined Sabonis with a quality performance, scoring 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting and five assists.
With an eye on the playoff picture, the Pacers will not catch the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly won their 14th straight game on Sunday, assuring the Sixers home court in the Eastern Conference postseason. Indiana will need another win over Charlotte and a pair of Cleveland Cavaliers losses to leapfrog the Cavs and finish in the top four.
Indiana produced 70 first half points, shooting 64% (32-of-50) from the field. In particular, three Pacers stood out in helping them take a 70-57 lead into halftime.
Oladipo led the charge, knocking down eight of his ten shot attempts to score 19 points. Off of the bench, Sabonis and Glenn Robinson III each chipped in double-figure point totals. Sabonis nailed eight of 12 shots, giving him 16 first half points, while Robinson was a perfect four-of-four to tally 11 points.
Oladipo and Robinson were both three-of-three from downtown in the first half.
Coming out of the locker room, however, the Pacers struggled. Charlotte started the third quarter on a 13-2 run, quickly trimming Indy’s lead all the way down to two. The Blue and Gold came up with a resounding response, though, outscoring the Hornets 23-11 the rest of the period. That actually allowed the Pacers to best Charlotte 25-24 in the third, giving them a 95-81 advantage after three.
The result of this game was never truly in doubt after that.
Charlotte got all the way within four late in garbage time, but that was it. Sabonis capped his spectacular afternoon with a strong final frame.
In addition to Sabonis and Oladipo playing particularly well, Lance Stephenson flirted with a triple-double. Stephenson grabbed ten boards, dished out ten assists, but fell one bucket short of the triple-double with eight points.
All in all, it was a great outing from Indiana’s bench. Powered by Sabonis’ 30, the Pacers’ reserves combined to turn in a whopping 72 points. Aside from Oladipo’s 27, Indiana’s starting five scored just 24 points. 13 of those 24 came from Bojan Bogdanovic.
Indy will close out the 2017-18 regular season with a home matchup with the Hornets on Tuesday. The Blue and Gold’s final tuneup prior to the playoffs is slated for a 7:00 p.m. start