With 10 seconds left in the game and down by two, Indiana put the ball in the hands of its new leading scorer.
Using a mismatch, Victor Oladipo shook his defender LaMarcus Aldridge and put up the game-winning 3-point shot, lifting the Pacers to an emotional 97-94 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
“It looked good. It felt good. I held it. It was a little deep, maybe a little too deep. Honestly, I didn’t really want to shoot it that far; but the move felt good and I just held my follow through and it went in. I was always taught when you step back to shoot a little higher than normal. Praise the basketball gods for that one,” explained Oladipo at his locker after the game.
While the Pacers led by four points as the fourth quarter began, the advantage was far from safe as the trio of Pau Gasol, Rudy Gay, and Aldridge helped orchestrate an 18-5 run in the first 5:25 of the period, building a nine-point lead for the stretch run.
For the Spurs, that lead didn’t hold for long, as Oladipo canned a 3-pointer to draw the Pacers within two, which was then followed with a putback from Domantas Sabobis, sending the home crowd into a deafening roar.
With the Spurs’ (4-2) next possession, Indiana (3-3) was able to force a steal with Darren Collison on the break. Collison missed the layup, but Bojan Bogdanovic was close behind, tipping it in to give the Pacers an 87-85 lead.
Minutes later, Indiana was holding on to a four-point lead when Danny Green and Patty Mills quickly erased the deficit, tying the game at 89 with two minutes left.
Luckily for the Pacers, Oladipo — who finished with a team-best 23 points — got an and-1 to fall, sinking the free throw and putting Indiana up 92-89.
On the other end, Green erased the deficit once more, drilling a 3-pointer from the wing, then floating in a runner on San Antonio’s next possession to put the Spurs on top 94-92 with 1:02 remaining in the game.
After each team squandered a possession, Indiana regained the ball with 30.3 seconds on the clock, still trailing the visitors by two points.
Desperately needing a bucket, the Pacers turned to their hot hand in Oladipo, who nailed a 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Aldridge with 10.3 seconds left to put Indiana up 95-94 as his teammates ran to embrace him. After the shot went down, Oladipo could be seen exulting “This is my city,” as the Fieldhouse rocked. The game-winner was the final signature of his 13-point, 5-of-7 shooting fourth quarter.
Even with the emotional bucket, San Antonio still had 10.3 seconds to steal the game, quickly getting the ball to Aldridge. As the fans at The Fieldhouse held their breath, Aldridge’s shot fell short and was rebounded by Cory Joseph, who hit both of his free throws to put Indiana up by three with 3.4 seconds remaining.
The Spurs got one final look at tying up the game, but that short was wide as well, sending the Pacers to the biggest win of their season as they dispatched the previously 4-1 Spurs.
The evening began in the Pacers’ favor, building a 12-5 advantage behind an impressive first shift from Sabonis, who finished his night a perfect 9-of-9 from the field, scoring 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
“He’s just playing great basketball,” said McMillan of his second-year forward. “He’s had to make an adjustment adapting to going from the second group to the first group. I think he makes us better. He gets the ball moving and makes good decisions.”
Even after the early Pacers scoring streak caused a Spurs timeout, Indiana continued to build its advantage, leading 20-9 following a Bojan Bogdanovic 3-pointer. It was then that the Spurs began to mount a charge, reeling off an 8-1 run to narrow their deficit to just three points.
By the end of the quarter, Aldridge led the game in scoring with eight points as the visitors trailed 26-24.
After starting the quarter with a 5-0 Pacers run, San Antonio continued to chip away at the advantage, eventually tying things up at 33 with a Pau Gasol 3-pointer.
As the Pacers extended their lead again, another flurry of scoring from Aldridge followed, who tied the game at 36 with an and-1 off a Spurs offensive rebound.
With the starting unit back in the game, Indiana used an inside slam from Thaddeus Young followed by a 3-pointer by Bogdanovic to cruise ahead and force another San Antonio timeout with 5:02 left in the half and Indiana leading 43-38.
Late in the half, Saobins led the way for Indiana, getting a layup, then lifting the home crowd by draining a 3-pointer from the wing to push Indiana’s lead to seven points.
At the break, the Pacers led the Spurs 53-48, as Bogdanovic led the team in scoring with 13 points, canning all three of his 3-point attempts.
During the third quarter, both of the teams slammed the brakes on offense, with the two teams combining for just 31 points in the period as the Spurs outscored the Pacers 16-15.
Once Spurs guard Dejounte Murray scored with 6:08 left in the third, San Antonio went four minutes without notching a point, allowing Indiana to hold on to a four-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, the Spurs opened up on a tear, rattling off a 9-0 run to put them up 73-68 and gaining control of the contest.
But that control would only last so long, as Oladipo took hold of the game in the final frame, rising to the occasion in front of a raucous home crowd and pushing the Pacers to their most thrilling victory of the young season.
“Big time, man,” said Collison of Oladipo in a postgame scrum. “He’s been showing confidence like that since the season started. He’s our guy. He’s done a phenomenal job at practice of leading us and leading us in games.”
Inside the Numbers
For the third game this season Domantas Sabonis was perfect from the field, this time going 9-of-9.
The Pacers lit it up from deep, going 10-of-22 from beyond the arc (45.5 percent).
While the Pacers turned it over two times more than the Spurs, Indiana generated 26 points off the turnovers compared to just 12 from the Spurs.
LaMarcus Aldridge of the Spurs was the game-high scorer, finishing with 26 points.
You Can Quote Me On That
“We wanted to get Victor in a pick and roll with their big and they went with LaMarcus (Aldridge) on Thaddeus (Young). We got the switch and Vic did a good job of getting space, taking his time and attacking. It was good to see him shoot that ball with confidence. A two would have tied it, I like that he felt comfortable enough to take that three.” -Pacers head coach Nate McMillan
“We just stayed poised. It’s a long game. There’s a lot of ups and downs, it’s a game of runs. You just have to lift each other up and we did a good job of that” -Victor Oladipo
“It was well contested. He was deep and he was off balance, but give him credit, he knocked it down. It was a well contested shot and it doesn’t bother me at all.”‘ -Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich on Oladipo’s shot
Stat of the Night
With a final box score 22 points and 12 rebounds, Domantas Sabonis posted a new career high in points (previous high of 20) and matched his career best for rebounds (12 at Miami on 10/21/17).
- Joe Young played his most meaningful minutes of the season, playing nine minutes and contributing a 3-pointer.
- Victor Oladipo’s 23 points came on just 14 shots, making 7-of-8 free throws.
- Myles Turner missed his fifth game with a sore neck/concussion.
- Oladipo and Sabonis each had a team-best +22 plus-minus rating while on the floor.
The Pacers have one day off before they lineup against Indianapolis-native George Hill and the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night at 7 PM ET Find Tickets »
Home Court Gift Shop Game Night Special
Halloween T-Shirt – $12. Game Night Specials can be purchased in the Home Court Gift Shop or any of our souvenir stands located on all levels of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The special is also available online at PacersTeamStore.com until midnight.