The Indiana Pacers appear to have turned the corner from a season-high six-game losing streak by winning four of their last five contests.
The Pacers hope their recent success travels well on Saturday when they open a five-game road trip against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Domantas Sabonis recorded his 45th double-double of the season by collecting 20 points and 11 rebounds, as Indiana posted a 106-100 home victory over Portland on Thursday.
“We started being aggressive,” Sabonis said. “We didn’t have enough energy in the first half. We’ve got a lot of weapons, and when we get stops, it’s tough to guard us in transition.”
Malcolm Brogdon has embraced the Pacers’ new-found aggressiveness, a welcome change he figures, considering the club needed time to adjust to constant lineup changes in the face of myriad injuries this season.
“At this point we’ve had so many adjustments, so many guys out, it’s a choice mentally that guys have to make, especially me,” Brogdon said, per the Indianapolis Star. “Just go out and play basketball regardless of who’s on the floor. Not settling. I’m not settling anymore. I’m going at people.”
Brogdon erupted for 30 points and 10 assists in the Pacers’ 110-99 setback in Cleveland on Oct. 26 before scoring 25 points in a 102-95 victory against the Cavaliers on Nov. 1.
Victor Oladipo is showing signs of returning to form after a year-long absence from a ruptured tendon in his right knee, scoring 12 of his 15 points on Thursday during the third quarter. The All-Star guard admitted during an on-court interview that it’s a work in progress to get his body and mind on the same page.
“It’s like I want to do it, but my body is like, ‘Hold, on, wait a second,'” Oladipo said. “Eventually it will catch up to my mind. And I’m just going to keep playing. Everything else will take care of itself.”
While Oladipo is hoping for modest gains in his return from injury, the Cavaliers also appear content with taking small steps forward in their rebuilding process.
Cleveland had won three of its first four games under J.B. Bickerstaff before it dropped a 116-104 decision to New Orleans and rookie Zion Williamson on Friday.
Second-year guard Collin Sexton matched a career high with 31 points and is shooting 20-for-36 from the floor in his last two contests. The 21-year-old has scored at least 20 points in 10 of his last 13 games overall and had 21 in the Cavaliers’ setback to Indiana on Nov. 1.
Friday’s setback wasn’t going to deter Sexton, however.
“The adjustments are going to get made. We’re going to watch film (Saturday) and be ready for Indiana,” Sexton said. “We can’t dwell on this loss because it’s the NBA. You’ve got to put it behind you and do better the next day.”
Rookie Kevin Porter Jr. added 16 points off the bench for Cleveland, which played its second straight game without center Andre Drummond. The center is nursing a strained left calf.
–Field Level Media