Apparently, life in the bubble agrees with T.J. Warren.
Playing in his first game for the Indiana Pacers since entering the NBA's isolation zone in Orlando, Fla, known as "the bubble," the former NC State star erupted for a career-high 53 points to lead his team to a 127-121 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Warren went 20 of 29 from the floor with nine three-pointers while making all four of his free throw attempts to easily surpass his previous NBA best of 40 points, set while he was a member of the Phoenix Suns.
He also had four rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
"I just wanted to be aggressive, do what I do best," Warren told NBA.com after the game. "My teammates did a great job of finding me, and just staying aggressive and locked in and engaged was really key for us."
The 2014 ACC Player of the Year punctuated his record-setting performance with a contested three-pointer from the top of the circle to seal the victory.
While Warren started the game hot, hitting for 19 points in the first quarter, he was even better late -- scoring 12 of his points in the final four minutes to help the Pacers (40-26) move ahead of the Sixers (39-27) into the fifth seed in the NBA's Eastern Conference.
Although his 53 points were only the third-highest total in Pacers history -- bettered by Reggie Miller's 57 points against the Charlotte Hornets on April 28, 1992 and Jermaine O'Neal's 55 in 2015, Warren did set several team records with his performance.
His 20 field goals and nine three-pointers both tied Pacers single-game records.
"A guy that hot, you try to get him the ball," said Indiana coach Nate McMillan, who is also a former State star having played for the Wolfpack from 1984-86.. "T.J. was as hot as I've ever seen him, and I thought our guys did a good job of sacrificing and screening and giving him the ball."
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