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T.J. McConnell guides Indiana Pacers with season-best performance in win over Orlando Magic

McConnell posted his first double double of the campaign on Monday.
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INDIANAPOLIS — T.J. McConnell is the perfect veteran for the young and growing Indiana Pacers. He is a key piece for the 10-6 team thanks to his leadership off the court, he elevates the team with his presence.

Monday night, though, the reserve point guard gave the team a huge boost on the court. McConnell finished with 19 points, ten assists, five rebounds, and three steals in a win over the Orlando Magic, and the Pacers won his minutes by 22 points, a team best. It was one of his best games with the franchise. He steered the ship all night.

"I loved his game, man," Pacers center Isaiah Jackson said after the game. "Tonight, he showed what he's been working on."

McConnell did many things that he is typically capable of throughout the game, but he did them perfectly and with a heightened frequency. He drove toward the basket to show off his crafty finishing and shot 4/4 in the lane. He threw accurate and defense-altering passes, which led to his ten assists. Eight of those dimes led to shots around the basket while the other two created open three-point shots. McConnell's passing, especially when it came after a drive, was sublime.

His defense was effective, as it has been often this year. And he elevated the transition game well all night. Those are the things McConnell normally does, but he was doing them at a heightened level on Monday night.

What made the game especially noteworthy for the eight-year pro was the atypical things he pulled off. The most eyebrow-raising addition to McConnell's performance was the three ball — he canned a career-high three of them in the win. His outside shot was working so well that he actually hit a defender with a shot fake, which got him in the air, in order to open up a passing lane to Myles Turner.

McConnell also hit a left handed floater over the outstretched arms of Bol Bol, which required a magnificently arched shot. McConnell looked at his left hand in awe as he trotted back down the court to play defense.

"Not many people score over Bol Bol, he's a tall dude. The lefty was crazy," forward Oshae Brissett said of the bucket.

Everything McConnell did was working, and it made Indiana's entire second unit better. Every bench player who was in the rotation finished with 10+ points. When it was all said and done, the veteran guard led the team in minutes — the coaching staff couldn't take him off the court.

It was just the seventh time in McConnell's career that he reached 19 points in a game. Among those seven games, the veteran guard only dished out 10+ assists in one of them prior to Monday. It was one of the best offensive games of the former 76er's career.

"His competitiveness is contagious to everyone that's out there," head coach Rick Carlisle said of McConnell after the game. "Tonight, his energy, his pain-in-the-ass-ness, we needed it."

McConnell only averages 4.7 points and 4.1 assists per game, but stats sell him short. He's a key locker room piece for the blue and gold, and his skills on the court make life easier for everyone. The veteran guard has shown off the former often this season, but Monday was far and away his best game of the year in terms of scoring and making life better for his teammates.

  • Oshae Brissett puts together his best game of the season to help the Indiana Pacers beat the Toronto Raptors: 'He's doing it at a high level'. CLICK HERE.
  • Aaron Nesmith shows off his growth with career night vs Orlando Magic. CLICK HERE.
  • Younger Indiana Pacers players are benefitting from T.J. McConnell's leadership. CLICK HERE.
  • Report: Los Angeles Clippers interested in Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner. CLICK HERE.
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