Facing the possibility of a five-game losing streak, the Indiana Pacers sorely needed a victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers. TJ McConnell played a significant role in getting it done.
In the Pacers' 114-111 win over the Cavs, McConnell managed to contribute 16 points, 13 assists, and 10 steals. His production amounted to one of the rarest triple-doubles, one with steals.
"That's as good of an all-around game from TJ as you're going to see in the NBA with the multiple ways he affected it," Malcolm Brogdon said. "He's the ultimate teammate, as well, so we were all very happy for him."
The Pacers frequently used the energy that McConnell injected into the rest of the lineup throughout this game to rally back from a 19-point deficit.
McConnell is the first player to record a triple-double with points, rebounds, and steals since Atlanta's Mookie Blaylock recorded 14 points, 11 assists and 10 steals against Philadelphia in 1998.
"The guys showered me with water after the game, but I don't remember much about it because it was so cold," McConnell said, laughing. "It was not enjoyable, but it was enjoyable at the same time, if that makes any sense."
The production that McConnell provided in this game was the most robust example of what he brings to the table regularly for the Pacers. His non-stop hustle keeps the opposing team's ball handler on their toes, but often after forcing a turnover.
The pressure that McConnell places on defenses by pushing the pace aggressively is another way he makes a significant impact. He operates well within the gaps and often creates quick passing windows to teammates.