Home to the Minnesota Timberwolves, owners of the league’s worst record, the Indiana Pacers were preparing without three great players, Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.
After a competitive first quarter, which saw the five changes of head and the six draws of the match, the Pacers took control. They led the rest of the course, including their biggest lead of 22, but were challenged late in their 141-137 win.
Seven Pacers finished in double digits, led by a total of 43 points from the Holiday brothers, but the biggest contributor for the hosts was reserve TJ McConnell.
The 6’1 “guard finished with 19 points, 15 assists, three rebounds and two steals on 9 of 12 shots from the field in 35 minutes.
TJ McConnell is the first player with multiple 15-point games and 15 bench assists in a single season since starts were first recorded in 1970-71. He did it tonight and on March 19 in Miami. (h / t @EliasSports) pic.twitter.com/MEoi5cZ8cx
– ESPN statistics and information (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 8, 2021
His 15 assists, a total he’s recorded twice earlier this season, is a season high. More importantly, as the Timberwolves had a late rally, McConnell led the Pacers home.
With three minutes remaining, the visitors had reduced the deficit to just three (128-125). For the remainder of the game, McConnell scored or assisted on all of the team’s off-goal points, including the 3-point dagger from the corner.
LET TJ KNOW 😤 pic.twitter.com/MkIr60Cmzk
– Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) April 8, 2021
“We’re dropping like flies now and it’s just kind of that neighbor mentality,” McConnell said after the win. “Thank you to everyone who came and played tonight. They came ready and played well. We moved the ball and took shots.”
McConnell has been huge off the bench for the Pacers this season, averaging 7.9 points and 6.7 assists. Meanwhile, his 1.7 steals average is just a shave from the best in the league despite averaging just 25.7 minutes per game.
It’s not the first time this season that McConnell is rewriting the history books with his performance.
A month earlier, he crammed the stats sheet with 16 points, 13 assists, 10 steals and four rebounds in a 19-point comeback against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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