Oladipo sets pace with 26 as Indiana beats Nets
NEW YORK — Victor Oladipo and Indiana Pacers coach Nate McMillan are becoming film buffs.
Not at the multiplex for the latest action or comedy offerings but in the team’s film room after practices.
In those viewings, McMillan gets a glimpse of his shooting guard’s speed while Oladipo receives pointers on how to properly use it in game situations.
Oladipo continued the best season of his career by using his speed at times to score 26 points on Sunday as the Pacers beat the Nets 109-97.
The fifth-year guard is viewed as a “franchise player” after being acquired from Oklahoma City in the July trade for Paul George. Through his first 29 games in Indiana, Oladipo is averaging a career-high 24.4 points while producing personal bests in shooting percentage (47.8) and 3-point accuracy (43.3).
He mixed in a combination of speed and jump shooting to lead the Pacers in scoring for the 21st time and produce his 21st game with at least 20 points.
“I think the biggest thing now is I’ve been using it but just being smart on how to use it,” said Oladipo, who added he watches film with McMillan all the time to seek input.
“I think he’s definitely helping me with that because I just feel like I can get by everybody at any time and necessarily that’s not what the team needs at the time. So, I just got to be smart and I do a great job of changing my speeds.”
A week after getting a career-high 47 points in an overtime win against Denver, Oladipo finished 9-of-14 from the field and hit four 3-pointers.
“We knew he had potential,” McMillan said. “His ability to play off the ball, play with the ball, he’s shown that. His speed. Only a few guys in the league has the speed that he has. Really what he’s learning to do is use that speed and defensively he can be a better than average defender. We’re still learning and it’s a work in progress.”
So far, the progress continued to go well for Indiana (17-13), which won for the fifth time in seven games, while George’s new team is 14-15 after a 15-point loss to New York Saturday night.
Oladipo scored eight points in the final 12 minutes when the Pacers secured the win. He used his speed to finish off a 2-on-1 fast break with Cory Joseph hitting a layup with 8:46 remaining to give the Pacers an 88-75 lead.
Thirty seconds later, he added an alley-oop dunk off a feed from Lance Stephenson and then capped his latest big game with a 3-pointer for Indiana’s final points.
“I think this year his confidence is on another level,” said Indiana forward Domantas Sabonis, who played with Oladipo last year when the guard averaged 15.9 points. “He’s shooting the ball great. He’s making the right decision, passing, rebounding, steals (and) blocks. That’s just helping us in a major way.”
Five Indiana players reached double figures as the Pacers shot 56.6 percent.
Sabonis added 17 points and eight rebounds, helping Indiana to a 43-29 edge on the boards. Myles Turner highlighted a 16-point contribution with three dunks. Cory Joseph contributed 15 and Darren Collison chipped in 14.
Allen Crabbe returned from missing Friday’s loss in Toronto with left knee soreness to lead the Nets with 17 points, but 14 came in the first quarter. Joe Harris, Quincy Acy, and Caris LeVert added 14 apiece for the Nets (11-18), who shot 42 percent en route to their third straight loss.
“We’re going through a little shooting slump, that happens,” Crabbe said. “We just got outplayed tonight, plain and simple.”
The Pacers led by 14 points late in the first half and kept the Nets at bay in the third quarter. The Nets cut it to six points twice, but the third ended with Collison hitting a step-back jumper near the foul line for an 80-72 lead.
Brooklyn appeared that it might make more inroads into the deficit when rookie Jarrett Allen opened the fourth quarter with a nifty two-handed dunk and finished a three-point play, but Oladipo’s layup capped an 8-0 spurt.
The Nets made another basket after going 0 of 6 with two turnovers since Allen’s dunk, but when LeVert scored with 7:39 remaining, it only cut the deficit to 92-80.
Brooklyn continued to hang around and was within 96-89 on a 3-pointer by Acy with 4:37 left. Indiana scored the next eight points and sealed the game when Turner banked in a layup for a 104-89 lead with 2:21 remaining.
“I thought they were the more physical team, the more energetic team,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said.
NOTES: Sunday marked the one-month anniversary of G D’Angelo Russell undergoing left knee surgery. The Nets have yet to provide an update on when Russell could return. ... The Pacers swapped reserves with their G League team, assigning F TJ Leaf and C Ike Anigbogu to the Fort Wayne Ants and recalling F Alex Poythress and G Edmond Sumner. ... The Pacers beat the Nets for the 13th time in the past 17 meetings. ... The Nets waived G Yakuba Ouattara, who was on a two-way contract with the team. ... Brooklyn C Jahlil Okafor, who scored 10 points in 22 1/2 minutes Friday in his debut with the team, did not play.