Coach Nate McMillan wanted the Indiana Pacers rested and ready for the playoffs – even if the strategy cost them their regular-season finale.
So McMillan rested three starters and watched the Charlotte Hornets knock down 18 3-pointers and eventually pull away for a 119-93 victory Tuesday night.
”My message to them Muhammad Wilkerson Jersey , it really shouldn’t look any different as far as how we play even though we have a number of guys out of uniform,” he said. ”We wanted to give some guys an opportunity to get minutes. We were able to do that.”
It wasn’t the same – not even close.
Frank Kaminsky matched his career high with 24 points, Dwight Howard finished with 14 points and 17 rebounds and the struggling Hornets came up one 3 short of tying their season high.
Charlotte won for only the second time in its last seven games and ended a three-game losing streak in Indy.
But it was little solace for a team that has now missed the playoffs three times in four seasons and could be headed for a major offseason overhaul with new general manager and president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak already in place.
”When you’re eliminated from the playoffs, you want to finish the season on a positive note,” Marvin Williams said after scoring 15 points and tying his career high with five 3s. ”Coach (Steve Clifford) getting sick was a huge blow for us. Losing Cody (Zeller) was a big loss. When you lose guys who are significant, it is tough to bounce back.”
Indiana faced a similar dilemma last summer after being forced to trade four-time All-Star Paul George.
Somehow, McMillan took a young team that most expected to be in this year’s lottery, led it to 48 wins and the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
With nothing significant at stake Tuesday, McMillan put Bojan Bogdanovic, Victor Oladipo and Thaddeus Young on the bench and carefully monitored the minutes of other key players.
The result: Darren Collison, T.J. Leaf and Glenn Robinson III each scored 13 points in a game that was never really close.
”You grow up watching the NBA in the postseason. That’s where you want to play your best basketball,” Collison said. ”There’s no greater feeling going with a team you enjoy playing with.”
Williams made four 3s in the first quarter to help Charlotte take a 37-25 lead and it was 63-55 at halftime.
Charlotte then used an 11-4 run to make it 79-63 midway through the third quarter and the Pacers never got closer than 12 the rest of the game.
Hornets: Howard finished the season with a franchise-record 53 double-doubles and joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to hold single-season records with two teams. … Howard also is one of six players to average a double-double in each of his first 13 seasons in the league. … Malik Monk had 17 points and Nicolas Batum had 14 points, four rebounds and six assists.
Pacers: Domantas Sabonis had 10 points and 10 rebounds while Lance Stephenson wound up with nine points Jordy Nelson Jersey , 13 rebounds and four assists. … The Pacers played on Fan Appreciation Night in their ”Hickory” uniforms and Stephenson signed his No. 1 jersey and tossed it into the crowd afterward. … Play was stopped briefly during the fourth quarter when a T-shirt landed on the court during play.
Oladipo and Collison must wait one more day to find out if they can win league titles for steals and 3-point percentage.
Collison was 3 of 5 from beyond the arc, improving his percentage to 46.8 percent. That gives him Indiana’s NBA single-season record, breaking Chris Mullin’s previous mark of 46.5 percent set in 1998-99.
Oladipo, who sat out with a sore right foot, started the night with the highest steals total (177) and the highest average (2.36) since Ricky Rubio (2.32) in 2013-14.
Just how did McMillan decide who to play?
”I talked with the trainers, I talked with (president of basketball operations) Kevin (Pritchard) and I talked to our guys,” McMillan said. ”Vic has a little tweak. Bogie has been playing for almost a year now, going back to last summer and Thaddeus has probably played more minutes than any forward in the league. So we needed to get those guys some rest.”
Hornets: The offseason.
Pacers: A trip to Philadelphia or Cleveland for a best-of-seven, first-round series.
This time, the short porch at Yankee Stadium ended up hurting the home team.
Even with one of baseball’s tallest players posted at the wall.
Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning that nicked the glove of a leaping Aaron Judge in right field, and the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Yankees 5-3 on Monday in a matchup between the top teams in each league entering the night.
”It should give us a lot of confidence,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. ”It’s good for our young guys that come into a place like this against a team like this, as good as they are Charles Clay Jersey , and play well.”
Johan Camargo homered early and Jesse Biddle pitched out of a late jam for the NL East leaders, who followed up a three-game sweep in St. Louis with their fourth consecutive victory. Atlanta (49-34) is 15 games over .500 for the first time since the conclusion of the 2013 season.
New York (54-2 fell a game behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
The 20-year-old Acuna also doubled and drove in three runs, four years to the day after the touted rookie signed with the Braves.
”First time here at Yankee Stadium,” he said through a translator. ”First home run at Yankee Stadium is very special to me.”
Judge hit his 23rd homer and second in two nights. Gleyber Torres had three hits and scored twice, but the rookie second baseman’s 10th error since he was called up April 22 helped Atlanta get started in the 11th.
Playing on the outfield grass, Torres booted Nick Markakis‘ leadoff grounder. One out later, Acuna lofted a 1-2 pitch from David Robertson (5-3) the other way. Judge, all 6-foot-7 of him, got in good position at the auxiliary scoreboard and jumped, but the ball glanced off the tip of his webbing and cleared the fence.
”Tough play. I want to make that play for D-Rob and I wasn’t able to come through,” Judge said. ”That’s all it is, just a little timing. If I time it up right I make that play. On that one, I was just a little late.”
Robertson slumped near the mound as an excited Acuna circled the bases with his seventh home run – third in the past six games.
”Man Aldrick Rosas Jersey , when he hit it I thought it was an out, to be honest with you,” Robertson said. ”Playing here at Yankee Stadium, you see it happen all the time. The short porch gets you in right field.”
Robertson had faced 182 right-handed batters without giving up a home run since Adam Rosales connected off him on June 25, 2017.
A.J. Minter got three outs for his fourth save .
”He’s got a save in Wrigley Field and Yankee Stadium. I mean, that’s pretty good for a first-year reliever,” Snitker said. ”And you can tell, he’s liking that situation, too. He doesn’t back down. He’s got a lot of confidence in himself.”
New York stranded 12 and went a season-worst 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
The Yankees had the bases loaded with one out in the 10th before Biddle (2-0) struck out Greg Bird and Austin Romine on seven pitches. The left-hander fanned four in two scoreless innings.
”These fans are pretty loud, and I was just trying to quiet them down,” Biddle said.
Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth for the Yankees, hitting a season-high 104 mph on the stadium radar gun to oohs and aahs from the crowd of 43,792. Dellin Betances retired slugger Freddie Freeman with runners at the corners to end the 10th.
Judge hit a pop-fly homer to right in the first and has gone deep in four of his last six games. Camargo answered with a leadoff shot in the third against rookie starter Jonathan Loaisiga DeSean Jackson Jersey , who was sent to the minors after the game.
Braves right-hander Anibal Sanchez allowed three runs in six innings.
Loaisiga was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to open a spot for RHP A.J. Cole (neck strain), who will be reinstated from the disabled list Tuesday. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said there’s a good chance Loaisiga will return next Monday to start in a doubleheader at Baltimore.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
With the international signing period open, the Yankees landed the younger brother of ace pitcher Luis Severino. Rafael Severino is a 19-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic who will start out at the club’s academy there.
”Yippee. Sign me up for that,” Boone said. ”Definitely good to have another Severino in the mix.”
The elder Severino, who is 13-2 with a 1.98 ERA, leads the majors in wins and the AL in ERA. He said he was excited, and happily delivered the news to his kid brother.
”He was flipping out. He didn’t believe it,” Luis Severino told reporters . ”I think he’s going to be really good.”
Braves: Reliever Peter Moylan was placed on the 10-day DL with a strained right forearm and RHP Matt Wisler was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. OF Michael Reed and RHP Evan Phillips were called up from Triple-A. … Arodys Vizcaino (right shoulder inflammation) threw a bullpen and could come off the disabled list Tuesday. Vizcaino, who has 15 saves, has been sidelined since June 21.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (two strained hamstrings) threw a bullpen and is scheduled to make a rehab start Wednesday at Triple-A. He could rejoin the team early next week in Baltimore – perhaps in time to pitch in the doubleheader. … As a precaution, Romine (left hamstring) was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive night. He entered at catcher in the ninth. Romine will likely start one of the next two games, Boone said.
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