Running thoughts: Pacers 97, Spurs 94

Here are my running thoughts from the Pacers’ 97-94 win over the San Antonio Spurs Sunday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

  • First game during a six-day stretch with four games in three different cities.
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spoke highly of Pacers guard Cory Joseph, who was drafted 29th overall in 2011 by San Antonio.
  • Nate McMillan on Myles Turner, who missed his fifth straight game due to a concussion: “He’s in the [return-to-play] protocol. He’s feeling better. The good thing is that he did come in feeling a little better.”
  • Glenn Robinson III was happy to be back with his teammates and back in the building after being at home for a week after surgery – and while the team was away for five days.
  • Robinson III unofficially has a new title, thanks to Director of Media Relations David Benner. Like Paul George, he was an intern and sat beside Benner at the end of the scorer’s table.
  • Pacers wore their white (Association) uniforms for the first time at home.
  • Good start. Pacers got up 11, 20-9, on a 3-pointer from Bojan Bogdanoic, who had seven first-quarter points. But then over the next 30 seconds, Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis each picked up their second fouls and went to the bench.
  • Third-string point guard Joe Young got some early playing time as Oladipo sat. It was a Young-Cory Joseph-Lance Stephenson backcourt.
  • “I wasn’t expecting to play,” Young said postgame. “That’s just one of things about being ready. I was ready, I went out there and did what I had to do, and they said I did pretty good so I just have to build off of that.”
  • So strange to see the Spurs make several poor decisions. They turned it over seven times in the first 16 minutes. Yet only trailed by three, 36-33.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic finally found his touch from range. After shooting 3-for-15 from 3-point land over the first five games, he sank his first three tries today.
  • Domantas Sabonis is already proven to be an efficient scorer. He went 7 for 7 over two of the first five games. Late in the first half, he connected on his first triple of the season (after two previous attempts). 5 for 5 with 11 points and seven rebounds … at the half!
  • During a halftime ceremony to celebrate George McGinnis’ enshrinement into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the Pacers gave the 67-year-old a brand new Range Rover!
  • Reggie Miller (Bentley) and Tamika Catchings (Lexus SUV) were previously given cars by owner Herb Simon and Pacers Sports & Entertainment.
  • Manu Ginobili is the king at taking charges. Some flopping, some not. He’s taken over for Shane Battier, who retired after the 2013-14 season.
  • All even at 68 with 10:56 left. It’s closing time, the earlier the better against the well-coached Spurs.
  • Nate McMillan called a timeout at the 9:51 mark trying to halt a 9-0 spurt by San Antonio, and to insert starters Oladipo and Sabonis back into the lineup. It worked.
  • The Pacers noticeably missed Oladipo’s energy as he spent significant time on the bench in foul trouble.
  • Pacers not pleased with the officiating, to put it lightly. Frustrated more than any other game thus far. (Pacers called for 18 fouls to the Spurs’ 8 at this point, in the middle of the fourth frame.)
  • With 22 points and 12 rebounds, Sabonis posted his third double-double over the first six games. He had two in 81 games last season.
  • Sabonis was perfect from the field for the third game, this time connecting on all nine of his field goals. Even more impressive considering he was under the weather.
  • “He needs to be sick more often,” Oladipo said of Sabonis.
  • Cool to see Pacers fans get on their feet for the final 3:27 as the team took back the lead. As loud as I’ve heard it all season. Great energy down the stretch as they strung together defensive strops. 9-0 run made it 89-85.
  • Big-time triple from Oladipo, a top-1o scorer in the league, over 6-foot-11 LaMarcus Aldridge gave the Pacers the lead for good. Amazing how he has led the team in scoring in each of the first six games.
  • Afterwards, he celebrated by saying “This my city.” Yeah, we’ve seen that before.
  • Oladipo postgame: “It just feels amazing when somebody wants you, when people believe in you, believe in your talent, the hard work and are invested in you, it’s a blessing, man. It’s no other better feeling than that. I believe in myself but to have your teammates, your coaches, and a city believe in you too, it just makes every day that much sweeter.”
  • Oladipo gave the game ball to GRIII.
  • Pacers have a .500 record again, 3-3. Two straight Ls for San Antonio after winning its first four games. Weird.
  • Up next: George Hill, Zach Randolph, and the Sacramento Kings make their only visit to Indy this season on Tuesday. Then the Pacers are on the road for three in a row.

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