INDIANAPOLIS – Any doubters that Victor Oladipo’s stardom is for real should be silenced after Wednesday night.
With Oladipo sidelined with a bruised right knee, the Indiana Pacers (19-16) lost at home to the lowly Dallas Mavericks (11-25). Indy had a shot to win down the stretch, but the Mavs prevailed with a 98-94 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Lance Stephenson got the start in place of Oladipo on Wednesday and took advantage of the opportunity. Stephenson helped spark Indiana to a solid first quarter, leaving the home team with a 29-22 after one. He scored six points, pulled down five rebounds and handed out four assists in the opening period alone.
Dallas would respond, however. The Mavericks held the edge in the second, trimming Indy’s lead down to 54-53 by the half.
Out of the break, the visitors had it going. The Mavs built a lead as large as eight, only to have the Pacers storm back to tie the score. The back-and-fourth third quarter ended with the Blue and Gold ahead 74-71.
The Mavericks chipped away at as much as a six-point deficit in the fourth and regained the lead again, giving them a four-point cushion with a couple of minutes to play. Capped by a Stephenson layup, the Pacers tied things back up with 53 seconds left.
Harrison Barnes hit one of two free throws next, allowing Indy a chance to go in front with 34 seconds to go. Wesley Matthews stood in Indiana’s way, though, forcing a Stephenson turnover that led to a hoop for Dallas.
Darren Collison had one last shot for the home team, but his potentially game-tying three did not go and sealed the win for the Mavericks.
The Pacers got scoring balance without Oladipo on the floor on Wednesday. All five starters scored in double-figures. Three players (Stephenson, Collison and Myles Turner led the way with 16 points each).
Indy returns to action on Friday with a matchup versus the Bulls in Chicago. Game time from the Windy City is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.