Oladipo Starts, Scores 15 in Pacers' Win over Sixers

Tom Brew

Victor Oladipo was back on the floor for the Indiana Pacers Saturday night as they got the NBA season restarted with a 127-121 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

It was a good thing, too, because the Pacers were missing starters Malcolm Brogdon (neck) and Domantas Sabonis (foot) and were playing the first of eight regular season games before the playoffs start in the bubble at Disney World in Orlando.

Oladipo scored 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting and played 32 minutes. He wasn't sure he wanted to play in this shortened season because he is coming off a serious quad injury and was worried he couldn't get enough work in to play at 100 percent.

But he appeared fine on the court, and didn't look at all fatigued. He also got to see teammate T.J. Warren go nuts, as he scored 53 points in this first game back to help the Pacers go to 40-23 on the season and move a game ahead of the Sixers in the Eastern Conference standings.

"A guy that hot, you just try to keep getting him the ball,'' Pacers coach Nate McMillan said after the game. "We did a good job with spacing, with execution, and that's what you have to do. There are going to be different nights where guys get hot, and you just have to milk that.

"I thought we battled, We lost the boards, but we just hung in there and continued to work. He was very hot, and very efficient. We've seen that before, not 50-something, but he had some 30-point nights. He's a scorer.'' 

The Pacers play again on Monday at 4 p.m. against the Washington Wizards.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan said before the game that he wasn't expecting to play Oladipo more than about 28 to 30 minutes, but that he had been practicing with the starting unit most of the past two weeks during practice.

"I've been focused on that the entire time. Victor, I know he made a statement but his approach to coming down with us and practicing has been as if he was going to play the game. I've had him working with the blue group as much as possible, that first unit," McMillan said.

 "Due to injuries, we've had to put that off for a little period of time with Malcolm [Brogdon] being out, Domas [Sabonis] being out, and Myles [Turner] missing a day or two, but he has worked with the blue unit, really the entire time that he's been here." 

It was the first game in more than four months for the Pacers. There are 22 teams in Orlando and everyone is playing eight regular season games before the playoffs start for 16 teams in mid-August.

"It was a special game,'' Warren said. "My teammates did a good job of finding me. We came out with the win, which was first and foremost. We were down a couple of guys and I knew I needed to step up.''