Bojan Bogdanovic

Pacers throw one away, Celtics’ Terry Rozier steals it, hits game winner

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It’s a coaches’ cliché to say their team threw the game away, but Indiana literally threw the ball and the upset win against the Celtics away in the final seconds Monday night.

Indiana was in control of the game late — because Victor Oladipo had 30 of his 38 points in the second half — and the Celtics had gone to the strategy of fouling and going for threes on the other end. There’s a reason teams go to that strategy. Kyrie Irving hit a couple of big threes, which were traded off with a couple of free throws at the other end, and with 9 seconds left the Pacers were up one, 111-110.

Indiana inbounded the ball to Cory Joseph, who was not instantly fouled and made a quick pass to Bojan Bogdanovic to kill more time. Then Bogdanovic tried the same idea but executed it poorly, throwing a hanging, slow cross-court pass.

Terry Rozier from Boston stole the pass, tipping it forward to himself, then racing in for the game-winning layup. Indiana had used its last time out just before that play to move the ball into the frontcourt, and without a timeout they could not get off a good shot and lost, 112-111.

Pacers fans can try to take a moral victory from this game, they hung with the top team in the East and should have won. Indiana and Oladipo are for real.

But this loss was still a punch to the gut.

Thunder pick up Paul George in his return to Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George made a winning return to Indiana, hitting the clinching free throws with 10.7 seconds left in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 100-95 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday night.

Steven Adams had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Russell Westbrook finished with 10 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists in his ninth triple-double this season. The Thunder have won two straight on the road.

Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 19 points and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15. Indiana had a chance to tie the score after getting the ball back with 15.2 seconds left, but George got a steal then hit a couple free throws.

The Pacers’ winning streak ended at four.

But the highly anticipated matchup between George and Oladipo, the key components in last summer’s blockbuster trade, didn’t go as expected.

George was booed loudly during introductions and every time he touched the ball. Fans only cheered for George when he was called for a foul or made a mistake and it seemed to take a toll on the four-time All-Star. He finished 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting, had two rebounds and four turnovers.

Oladipo, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, didn’t have a typical night either. He was 9 of 26 with five rebounds and six assists.

The result: Both teams struggled.

Indiana led 27-22 after one but gave the lead right back by allowing Oklahoma City to start the second quarter on a 9-0 spurt.

After the Pacers answered with a 9-0 run, the Thunder closed the half on a 9-3 spurt to make it 51-46.

The trend continued in the second half.

Indiana charged back to take a 63-59 lead before the Thunder used an 11-2 run to pull out to a 73-69 lead going into the fourth.

Oklahoma City extended the lead to 92-81 with 5:16 to go but only scored six points the rest of the way. That was just enough to hold on.

TIP-INS

Thunder: Oklahoma City is 4-10 on the road. … Oklahoma City got its first series split with the Pacers since 2012-13. … Oklahoma City had 17 offensive rebounds and was 13 of 29 on 3-pointers.

Pacers: Thaddeus Young had 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals. … Made 11 3s but fell to 14-3 when making 10 or more 3-pointers in a game this season. … Center Myles Turner had three blocks, his 12th game this season with three or more. … Former Colts coach Tony Dungy attended the game. He’s in town for Thursday night’s NFL game between the Colts and Broncos.

ALL-STAR DAY

The Pacers got a win before they even took the floor.

A little less than three hours before tip, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Indiana would host the 2021 All-Star Game. It will be the first time the Pacers have hosted the marquee event since 1985.

The move comes seven months after Larry Bird hand-delivered the formal proposal at the league’s New York headquarters in an IndyCar.

UP NEXT

Thunder: Faces Philadelphia on Friday, trying to improve to 17-1 in the series since moving to Oklahoma City.

Pacers: Host Detroit on Friday, seeking a seventh straight home win in the series.

 

Victor Oladipo, Pacers end Cavaliers 13-game winning streak

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Victor Oladipo had 33 points and eight rebounds and the Indiana Pacers beat Cleveland 106-102 on Friday night to end the Cavaliers’ winning streak at 13 games.

Indiana has won three straight, nine of 12 and is the first team to beat the Cavaliers twice this season.

LeBron James had 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Cleveland, and Kevin Love added 20 points. The Cavs lost for the first time since Nov. 9 at Houston. They had won seven straight on the road.

The teams went toe to toe all night, trading jabs, leads and momentum swings. But Indiana’s closing flurry finally stopped Cleveland.

The Pacers used an 11-2 run late in the third quarter to retake the lead and Cleveland never regained the upper hand. It sure wasn’t easy, though.

Cleveland trailed 93-86 with 9:43 to play and fought fiercely to extend the streak. The Cavs got as close as 96-95 on J.R. Smith‘s 3-pointer with 2:48 left.

But Bojan Bogdanovic answered with a 3, Oladipo made one of two free throws and hit down another 3 to extend the lead it 103-97 with 1:01 left.

The Cavs again made it a one-possession on Smith’s 3 with 10 seconds to go.

This time, Corey Joseph made two free throws, Love missed a 3, and Myles Turner grabbed the rebound to seal the win.

 

LeBron James in 3-point contest? ‘Not when I can spend a Saturday night at home with my family’

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LeBron James is making 42.5% of his 3-pointers – by far the best percentage of his career – while attempting a healthy 4.8 per game this season.

Could he participate in the 3-point contest at All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles?

LeBron, via Jason Lloyd of The Athletic:

“Not when I can spend a Saturday night at home with my family,” he said.

Lakers fans can rejoice at LeBron again mentioning the comfort of his Los Angeles “home.” It obviously doesn’t mean he’ll sign with the Lakers next summer, but it’s a positive indicator.

As for LeBron in the 3-point contest, it’d be mostly about his name recognition. He’s a viable choice, but C.J. McCollum, Tobias Harris, Joe Ingles, Klay Thompson, Bojan Bogdanovic, Kyle Korver, Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo, Gary Harris, Will Barton and Kevin Durant are all surpassing LeBron in 3-point attempts per game and 3-point percentage. That doesn’t even include the best 3-point shooter of all-time and a player in his prime, Stephen Curry, or the reigning contest champion, Eric Gordon.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement requires All-Stars – which LeBron will surely be – to participate in at least one Saturday-night event (not including the dunk contest) if the league so chooses. So, LeBron could be pressed into the 3-point contest against his wishes. That said, LeBron has the ear of commissioner Adam Silver. Would the NBA really make LeBron compete if he doesn’t want to?

Too early to hit panic button, but Cavaliers drop fourth in a row, 124-107 to Pacers

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Thaddeus Young scored 26 points, Darren Collison had 25 and the Indiana Pacers sent the Cleveland Cavaliers to their fourth straight loss, 124-107 on Wednesday night.

LeBron James had 33 points and 11 assists, but it wasn’t enough to keep Cleveland from losing for the fifth time in six games and falling to 3-5.

The Cavaliers held a lengthy meeting before Tuesday’s practice to discuss their struggles, but the defending Eastern Conference champions have lost by a combined margin of 58 points in their losing streak.

James was upbeat about the meeting, but the Cavaliers still have issues to work out, especially on the defensive end. Cleveland led 69-68 in the third quarter, but Indiana hit four straight 3-pointers and built an eight-point lead.

Indiana was 16 of 26 from 3-point range. Cleveland had allowed the second most 3-pointers in the league going into the game.

Victor Oladipo scored 23 points for the Pacers. Bojan Bogdanovic added 17, and Domantas Sabonis had 15 points and 12 rebounds.

The Pacers built the lead to double figures early in the fourth quarter, but James pulled the Cavaliers closer with a dunk and a three-point play to make it 97-94.

Indiana scored on its next four possessions, including Oladipo’s 3-pointer. Collison hit a 3-pointer giving the Pacers a 109-101 lead. Indiana pulled away in the final minutes.

Indiana showed little effect from playing the second end of a back-to-back. The Pacers rolled past Sacramento 101-83 on Tuesday and led for most of the first half.

Lance Stephenson was assessed a flagrant one in the second quarter for hitting James in the groin area as the four-time MVP drove to the basket.

James spent several seconds on the baseline hunched over in pain before walking to the bench while the officials looked at the replay. James made both free throws, sparking an 11-0 run.

Derrick Rose had 19 points while Kevin Love had 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson left the game in the second quarter with a strained left calf and didn’t return.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Bogdanovic took a knee to the head from Dwyane Wade, who was leaping trying to block his shot in the fourth quarter, but stayed in the game. … C Myles Turner worked out before the game, but remains in the concussion protocol.

Cavaliers: Thompson had eight rebounds and two points in 14 minutes. He had one point, no rebounds and four fouls in 19 minutes Sunday. … G Iman Shumpert (sore right knee) has missed the last two games.