INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic got the hard work out of the way early and watched the fourth quarter from the bench.
Bogdanovic scored 26 of his 35 points in the first half, and the Indiana Pacers blew out the Denver Nuggets 124-88 on Sunday.
“I was playing bad the last couple of games so I was extra aggressive today,” Bogdanovic said. “I was trying to do something extra for my team and, thanks to all my teammates, we won this game.”
The Pacers needed it, too. Indiana (45-29) returned home after dropping four in a row during a West Coast swing.
Myles Turner had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Domantas Sabonis added 15 points and 13 rebounds. Indiana’s focus is on gaining homecourt advantage when the playoffs begin next month.
“Basically, we’re still in a race,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “We made the playoffs, but we still have an opportunity for homecourt advantage.”
Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, Will Barton had 15 points and reserve Monte Morris scored 12 points for the Nuggets (49-23), who lost for the first time after winning six straight.
Denver is in a race of its own. The Nuggets are battling Golden State for the best record in the West to secure the top seed for the playoffs.
“I got the sense that we felt that we won six games in a row, 3-0 on this road trip, and that we could just show up and play and be OK,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “It was an embarrassing effort by all of us. We’ve been winning games, playing well in stretches. And tonight was just inconsistent basketball.”
Bogdanovic scored every point during a 12-2 run late in the second quarter. He made a 3-pointer with 2:53 remaining in the first half to put the Pacers ahead 52-35.
Bogdanovic set a career high for points in a half, and that was enough to put the game away before the break. He was 10 of 11 from the field in the first half and didn’t miss a shot until Jokic blocked a 3-point attempt with 3 seconds left.
The Pacers led 62-46 at halftime, and the Nuggets never got closer than 11 points in the second half.
Kyle O’Quinn’s dunk made it 121-80 with 1:30 left to play.
Nuggets: Denver was just 2 of 10 from 3-point range in the first half and 7 of 29 for the game. … The Nuggets finished 15 of 16 from the free-throw line. … Jokic also had four blocked shots.
Pacers: Indiana is 20-1 this season when holding teams to 97 or fewer points. … Bogdanovic also had six rebounds. … G Darren Collison was out for a third straight game with a right quad contusion.
The Pacers scored a season-high 29 fast-break points and had 25 points off 17 turnovers. Indiana also finished with a 72-42 advantage in points in the paint.
Three Indiana natives on the Nuggets roster were greeted with a sign outside the visitor’s locker room that read “Welcome home” across the top and with pictures of Gary Harris, Trey Lyles and Mason Plumlee from their younger years. Plumlee was born two hours northeast of Indianapolis in Fort Wayne. Harris attended high school in nearby Fishers. And Lyles went to Arsenal Tech High School in Indianapolis where he won a Class 4A boys basketball state title in 2014.
Nuggets: Host Detroit on Tuesday.
Pacers: At Oklahoma City on Wednesday.