Amongst the most unlikely heroes Wednesday night, Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland stood out in the crowd… in a game that head coach Frank Vogel rested all five of his starters.
At some point, Pacers fans probably figured Chris Copeland would finally cash his paycheck with a smile on his face, knowing he recently made his mark in the season’s scrapbook of most memorable moments.
Acquired in the offseason via free agency, the former New York Knick and current NBA sophomore at 30 years old, Copeland accepted an inbounds pass from veteran Rasual Butler with 4.9 seconds left on the game clock. Cope, known for his deadly three-point range, made a move toward the basket and into the paint.
He lofted up a floater from about five feet out and drained it as the clock ticked down to 1.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Copeland’s shot turned out to be the game-winner as Indiana escaped, 104-102. Copeland finished with 18 points.
The win was big since it put the Pacers back in sole possession of the No. 1 seed in the East (by a half game over Miami), but even more encouraging may be the reaction of the starters after Cope hit the shot. The whole bench was lively all game and Paul George, Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson, David West, and George Hill all seemed excited to watch their teammates compete valiantly against the Bucks.
Once the game was won, the starters rushed the court to mob Copeland, with Stephenson trying to tackle Cope only to fall and have Hibbert horse around with his fallen ‘mate on the floor. George also actively got in on the act by smacking around Cope a few times.
A truly joyous occasion for a team that has seen almost only lowlights in recent weeks.