The Indiana Pacers get an opportunity to unveil a secret weapon Friday night when they visit the Golden State Warriors.
The Pacers won for a second time in three stops on their five-game Western swing when they walloped the Phoenix Suns 112-87 on Wednesday night, when star guard Malcolm Brogdon suffered a cut over his left eye.
After getting three stitches, Brogdon did not return for the second half of the game amid fears of a possible concussion. He’ll likely be held out against Golden State, with the trip finale on the horizon Sunday at Portland.
Pacers coach Nate McMillan indicated after Wednesday’s game — one in which Indiana won for the sixth time in its last seven games — that T.J. McConnell would be the logical replacement for Brogdon, just as he was to start the second half at Phoenix.
McConnell wound up enjoying one of his best games of the season against the Suns, recording a 10-point, 11-assist double-double.
Brogdon, for one, was not surprised.
“I think he’s one of the most underrated players in the league,” Brogdon recently told reporters. “We’re lucky to have him.”
McConnell has made just one previous start this season, contributing two points, three rebounds and four assists to a win at Chicago earlier this month.
Since that game, he’s been a valuable asset off the bench, averaging 6.0 points and 6.5 assists in six games, shooting 61 percent.
In Golden State, the Pacers will see another team that’s been forced to make regular lineup changes, mostly due to injuries.
Alec Burks, who had averaged 22.0 points in back-to-back starts, and Eric Paschall, who had gone for a 21.0-point average in those games, were both back on the bench for Wednesday’s 129-96 blowout loss at home to Utah.
They combined for 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting in the defeat.
Draymond Green, who returned as a starter after an absence due to a sprained finger on his left hand, managed just five points while adding to his league-leading technical-foul total with his 11th.
Afterward, Warriors coach Steve Kerr pointed to Green’s technical, rather than his start, as being emblematic of the club’s poor showing, one that produced a 12th loss in 13 games.
“It’s been a tough stretch,” Kerr noted to reporters. “Traditionally, January is a tough month for the NBA, fatigue-wise. When you are losing a lot of games and you are beaten up, it’s not easy. I think we have lost 12 of 13; it’s no fun.
“Draymond got a technical for slamming the ball down and I guess the official had to call it. Draymond came over and said, ‘You don’t think I’m frustrated?’ And the official said, ‘I know you are frustrated, but I have to call it.’
“That’s how we feel. We are frustrated and I’m frustrated. It’s no fun losing, but you have to keep pushing and keep plugging away. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us, especially after the last five years.”
The clubs will be meeting for the first time this season.
–Field Level Media