Once upon a time, T.J. McConnell was a 23-year-old undrafted point guard who needed to prove himself at the NBA Summer League to secure a roster spot. Now, he's an NBA record-holder.
McConnell was a thief in Pacers clothing on Wednesday night against the Cavaliers, racking up nine steals in the first half in a 114-111 win. That set a new league record for steals in a half—a feat even more impressive when considering McConnell didn't even start the game.
The sixth-year point guard finished the game with 16 points, 13 assists and 10 steals, good for his second career triple-double. He was one steal shy of tying the NBA's single-game record and became the first bench player ever to record a triple-double with steals. He was also a perfect 8-for-8 from the field.
McConnell's steals were about the only good thing the Pacers defense was able to execute. Cleveland shot 51.8% from the field as a team, but committed 26 turnovers. The Pacers shot a blistering 56.6% from the field but weren't able to convert their steals into many points—Indiana had just 12 points off of turnovers, while the Cavaliers had 35.
McConnell, playing in the final year of his contract, is averaging a league-best 2.0 steals and 6.8 assists per game this season, both career highs, with 6.4 points per game. He's shot 52.1% from the field over the past three seasons.