Sabonis, Oladipo lead Pacers to 121-107 opening night win over Knicks

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Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis (11) passes between New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) and forward Julius Randle (30) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Domantas Sabonis scored a career-high 32 points and Victor Oladipo added 16 of his 22 in the second half Wednesday, leading the Indiana Pacers to a 121-107 opening victory over the New York Knicks.

Sabonis also grabbed 13 rebounds as new coach Nate Bjorkgren celebrated his first career victory.

RJ Barrett finished with 26 points and Alec Burks had 22 for New York, which lost on opening night for the fourth time in five years and the first time in coach Tom Thibodeau’s tenure.

Pretty? No. And with only a few dozen people in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse stands, the energy was lacking, too.

But Oladipo’s opening outburst in the second half changed everything.

With Indiana trailing 66-61, the two-time All-Star took matters into his own hands by scoring the Pacers’ first 11 points in the third quarter. Next, he found T.J. Warren for a breakaway layup to give the Pacers a 78-77 lead with 5:50 left in the quarter. Indiana never trailed again.

The Pacers led 83-77 after three and pushed the margin to double digits early in the fourth before sealing it midway through the period.

TIP-INS

Knicks: Barrett played a nearly perfect first half, going 8 of 8 from the field, 3 of 3 on 3s and 1 of 2 at the free throw line. He finished 11 of 15 from the field. … No. 8 pick Obi Toppin had nine points on 3-of-12 shooting in his NBA debut. … Mitchell Robinson, who broke the league’s single-season field goal percentage record last season, struggled with fouls all night and was 1 of 2 from the field with three points. … Julius Randle had 17 points and nine rebounds. … The Knicks had 16 turnovers.

Pacers: T.J. Warren, who was so impressive in the bubble, wasn’t himself after returning from a foot injury. He missed his first six shots, didn’t score in the first half and wound up with five points. … Myles Turner matched his career high with eight blocks. … Malcolm Brogdon had 21 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. … Sabonis also had five assists. … Indiana had a 49-40 rebounding advantage.

UP NEXT

Knicks: Thibodeau makes his home debut Saturday against Philadelphia. New York has lost 12 straight in the series.

Pacers: Indiana faces another familiar face with a new team, Billy Donovan, when it visits Chicago on Saturday.

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