Domantas Sabonis Steps Up, Pacers Beat Knicks 121-106
January 12, 2019
In a nationally televised game Friday night on ESPN, the Indiana Pacers came to New York to face a struggling Knicks team and did what they've done all season: play quality basketball and secure a win. The Knicks hung around, trailing by around 14 points for big stretches of the second half, but fell to the Pacers, 121-106.
Still playing without starting center and key defender Myles Turner, the Pacers started Domantas Sabonis at the five-spot. Just his fifth start of the season in 40 games played, Sabonis made the most of it, shooting 9 of 14 for a team-high 22 points, plus a team-high 15 rebounds, along with three assists and no turnovers.
Starting shooting guard Victor Oladipo also played well for Indiana, hitting 8 of 13 shots and 3 of 5 three-pointers for 19 points, four rebounds and six assists, though he did commit five turnovers. Forward Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15 points. Doug McDermott added 12 off the bench.
In the loss for the Knicks, starting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay scored 21 points -- his fifth game of the season putting up 20 or more points -- but had more turnovers than assists. Guard Damyean Dotson was a positive for the home squad, coming off the bench to score 15 points on just seven FG attempts, plus six rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes of playing time.
But other than Mudiay, no Knicks starter scored more than 14 points.
It's a season of rebuilding for the Knicks. Tonight, Dotson took a step forward. This was the first game of his young career with at least 15 points, six rebounds and four assists.
The Knicks took a ton of three-pointers tonight: 39, with 14 of them going in. "That wasn't in the plan," said head coach Dave Fizdale in regard to that number of three-point attempts. "But some of those shots you get when you just don't make the easy play and move the ball and end up getting stuck with the ball at the end of the clock. Or you take them early in the clock."
The Pacers have been one of the league's best teams this season, especially due to their intense defense, which through Friday's games ranks second best in the entire NBA, only behind the Oklahoma City Thunder.
"I thought we had good energy right from the start, defensively," said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan.
The Pacers are in an interesting spot this season. Both the Raptors and Bucks are above the Pacers in East standings, but only by a few games. A trip to the NBA Finals will be tough for Indiana, but it's absolutely possible. They aren't a favorite, but the team deserves more attention than they've received this season, and are worth watching on a national level.
The Pacers now enjoy several days off, with the next game scheduled for Tuesday, playing host to the Suns.
The Knicks have Saturday off, but must keep their sneakers on because Sunday host a tough Sixers squad.