The Indiana Pacers have something of a dilemma on their hands. With Victor Oladipo working his way back to 100 percent and Domantas Sabonis leaving the bubble to seek treatment for plantar fasciitis, the Pacers have legitimate question marks about both of their All-Stars. With a crucial seeding game against the Philadelphia 76ers leading off their schedule in the NBA’s Orlando bubble, the team needed someone to come up big.
That someone ended up being T.J. Warren, who had the game of his life to lead the Pacers to a 127-121 win over Philly on Saturday. Warren, who has always had the ability to score in bunches, set a career-high with 53 points on Saturday evening on 20-for-29 shooting, including a 9-for-12 clip from three. The 53 points broke his old career high of 39.
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— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) August 2, 2020
Warren looked prime to have a big night from the get go. The Pacers’ forward went for 29 points in the first half, with 11 of those coming in the middle of an early 17-0 run that helped Indiana catch its breath following a flying start for Philly.
TJ Warren (29 PTS) had it going in the 1st half 🔥 pic.twitter.com/lW7KdgCSI6
— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 2, 2020
After a relatively quiet third quarter — Warren scored five points, and unsurprisingly, the Sixers were able to take an 87-81 lead into the game’s final frame — Warren went supernova when his team needed him most. The veteran forward dropped 19 points in the fourth, including a pair of monster threes at the end that stomped out any final hopes of a Sixers rally. The last triple in particular summed up his night, as Warren got the ball from comfortably behind the three-point line, flicked his wrist, and despite a contest by Furkan Korkmaz, got nothing but the bottom of the net.
TJ Warren (53 PTS & 9 3PM) dropped a career-high against Philly 😱 pic.twitter.com/7lhzYN9eJc
— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 2, 2020
Aaron Holiday’s double-double (15 points, 10 assists), a nice night for Oladpio (15 points, seven rebounds), and a good performance off the bench from T.J. McConnell (10 points, eight dimes) were all crucial, but it was Warren’s monster evening — which, so far, is the high-water mark for scoring in the bubble — that helped the Pacers fend off a gigantic game from Joel Embiid. The All-Star center feasted against a thin Indiana frontcourt, scoring 41 points on 15-for-23 shooting and ripping down 21 rebounds. The Sixers were +21 in Embiid’s 34 minutes, but despite a very nice game from Ben Simmons (19 points, 13 rebounds), were -27 in 14 minutes while the big man rested.
The win puts Indiana at 40-26 on the year, a full game up on Philadelphia (39-27) for the 5-seed in the Eastern Conference. It also gives the squad from Naptown the tiebreaker over the bunch from the City of Brotherly Love. The Pacers will next take the floor on Aug. 3 against the Washington Wizards at 4 p.m. EST. A little later the same day, the Sixers’ next tilt against the San Antonio Spurs tips at 8 p.m.