Hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves, owners of the league's worst record, the Indiana Pacers were suiting up without three big players in Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, and Myles Turner.
After a competitive first quarter, which witnessed all of the game's five lead changes and six ties, the Pacers took charge. They led the rest of the way, including their largest lead of 22, but were challenged late in their 141-137 win.
Seven Pacers finished in double figures, led by a combined 43 points from the Holiday brothers but the biggest contributor for the hosts was reserve T.J. McConnell.
The 6'1" guard finished with 19 points, 15 assists, three rebounds, and two steals on 9-of-12 shooting from the field in 35 minutes. The stat-sheet stuffing performance was historic.
T.J. McConnell is the 1st player with multiple 15-point, 15-assist games off the bench in a single season since starts were first tracked in 1970-71. He did so tonight and on March 19th at Miami. (h/t @EliasSports) pic.twitter.com/MEoi5cZ8cx- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 8, 2021
His 15 assists, a tally he's recorded twice earlier this season, is a season-high. More importantly, as the Timberwolves made a late rally, McConnell led the Pacers home.
With three minutes to go, the visitors had pulled the deficit to just three (128-125). Over the remainder of the game, McConnell scored or assisted on all of the team's points off field goals including the 3-point dagger from the corner.
LET THEM KNOW T.J. 😤 pic.twitter.com/MkIr60Cmzk- Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) April 8, 2021
"We're dropping like flies a little bit now and it's just kind of that next-man-up mentality," McConnell said after the win. "Credit to everyone that came in and played tonight. They came in ready and played well. We moved the ball and made shots."
McConnell has been huge off the bench for the Pacers this season, averaging a career-high 7.9 points and 6.7 assists. Meanwhile his steals average of 1.7 is just a shave off the league-best despite only averaging 25.7 minutes per game.
This isn't the first time this season that McConnell has re-written the history books with his performance.
A month earlier, he stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, 13 assists, 10 steals and four rebounds in a 19-point comeback against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
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