Post-Game Grades: Pacers survive rough start to walk away with win over Nuggets.


Victor Oladipo sets a career-high with 47 points while the Indiana Pacers rallied to a win over the Denver Nuggets.

116. 73. 126. 100. Final

Victor Oladipo set a career-high in points with 47, but this ended up being a team-effort led by the most surprising story of the NBA season.

But that’s not how the game started.

The Denver Nuggets opened the game going 6 for 6 as the Pacers appeared to be looking ahead on the schedule to Wednesday’s date with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Or maybe they were blinded by the afterglow of their win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. They looked lost without Darren Collison, who was injured. Either way, they didn’t look like a team ready to win.

But slowly the fought back into the game. It took until late in the third quarter for Indiana to take their first lead — on a Joe Young lay-up — but that eventually gave way to an 8-point Nuggets lead in the fourth quarter.

A Myles Turner free throw started what became an 11-3 run — the next 8 points coming from Oladipo — capped off by a Thaddeus Young basket with 5 seconds left, forcing overtime. In the extra period, Indiana all but shut out the Nuggets, outscoring them 12-2, for the Pacers’ fourth straight win.

The Good: The 35-22 score after the first quarter hid the fact Indiana absolutely dominated the Nuggets the rest of the way. After the first quarter, the Pacers had a 135 offensive rating, and a 102 defensive rating. That means they outscored them by 33 points per 100 possessions the rest of the way.

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In non-nerdy terms, they outscored them 104-81 after the first quarter.

The comeback took a while, but the Pacers outplayed the Nuggets in most of the game despite needing overtime.

The Bad: That first quarter was rough. You don’t need advanced numbers to know a 13-point deficit is a bad thing.

The Nuggets were 12 of 23 (52.2%) from the field and 6 of 9 (66.7%) from deep in the opening period while Indiana was an ugly 8 of 20 and losing the rebounding battle 14 to 8.

MVP: Victor Oladipo got MVP chants from the crowd. The crowd made this choice.

LVP: Cory Joseph was the starting point guard in place of Collison, but he couldn’t fill the void. The team played better without him, prompting coach Nate McMillan to let Oladipo play point guard while Lance Stephenson remained in the game as the shooting guard.

X-Factor: Thaddeus Young’s 18 points and 7 rebounds aren’t bad, but the biggest thing was he made it to the right place at the right time to put the ball back up after Oladipo’s miss in the closing seconds of regulation. The game doesn’t go to overtime without him.

VICTOR OLADIPO. A+. A career-night: 15 of 28 (53.6%), 6 of 12 (50%) from deep, 11 of 13 from the line for 47 points. Throw in 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and a block.. SG. Indiana Pacers

SF. Indiana Pacers. BOJAN BOGDANOVIC. C+. Only 2 of 8 on the night for 7 points., but the second best +/- of the Pacers at +16. Some of that comes with who he shares the floor with, but his shooting ability still must be respected by opponents even on an off night.

PF. Indiana Pacers. THADDEUS YOUNG. A. 18 points, 7 rebounds as once again he carries much of the Pacers weight. He doesn’t waste shots either as he went 8 of 11 (72.6%) from the field and 2 of 3 from deep. Thad isn’t flashy, but he’s a winner.

A. The spotlight shone elsewhere, but 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists can’t be overlooked. Like Thad, he doesn’t waste possessions as he shot 10 of 15 (66.7%) and also like Thad was 2 of 3 from deep.. C. Indiana Pacers. MYLES TURNER

Despite playing only playing 20 minutes, he was a major factor with 14 points and 6 rebounds. McMillan played the hot hands — and the lineup that worked best — which left Sabonis on the bench. No reason to worry just wasn’t Sabonis’ night to shine.. C. Indiana Pacers. DOMANTAS SABONIS. B

Born Ready’s hot streak continues as he shot 6  of 11 (54.5%) on the night to score 12 points. Also had 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Indiana leaned heavy on him late as he played the game’s last 20 minutes without being subbed out.. SG. Indiana Pacers. LANCE STEPHENSON. A

PG. Indiana Pacers. CORY JOSEPH. C-. 1 of 7 (14.2%) shooting is bad, but 5 assists help make up for it.

Missed a shot, got a rebound, played bad defense. Still a rookie.. PF. Indiana Pacers. TJ LEAF. C-

Got nearly 13 minutes of play, but only managed 2 points and 2 rebounds. Posted a +1 +/-, so can’t complain too much. And at least those two points put Indiana ahead in the third.. PG. Indiana Pacers. JOE YOUNG. C

Next: Lance makes Ntilikina dance

Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder come to town on Wednesday.