ORLANDO--For the first time since March, the Indiana Pacers played against somebody other than themselves Thursday. They beat the Portland Trailblazers 91-88 at a scrimmage in the Orlando bubble.
Possibly more important the win, however, was who was on the court for Indiana. Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, who initially said he would not play in the bubble, has been practicing with the team and decided to play in the scrimmage. Oladipo has been recovering from a ruptured quad tendon he suffered in January 2019 but has expressed concern about playing.
Oladipo finished with 8 points and made 3 of 10 shots in 19 minutes of game action.
“Today (Thursday) was really good to make sure we get our conditioning back and get a feel for the game again. Obviously, it’s been a minute since all of us have played in a live game,” said Oladipo in a virtual postgame press conference with the media.
The Pacers had won six of their last eight games before the stoppage because of the coronavirus. Their last game before the league was suspended before Thursday was a 114-111 loss to the Boston Celtics on March 10.
“Being able to compete. It felt pretty good. My body and mind just got to get used to playing again. Overall, I felt pretty decent. I’m just trying to find a flow and get my rhythm back. That will come. I’m just reassessing my body and knee after every game and going from there,” said Oladipo.
So far, Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan likes what he has seen from Oladipo.
“He’s been practicing well. He didn’t shoot the ball well. Malcom (Brogdon) didn’t shoot the ball well (4-10, 11 points), but that will come. You could see they were a little rusty. The timing and rhythm isn’t quite there yet for them,” said McMillan.
The Pacers were led in scoring by Justin Holliday. He had 16 points.
Thursday’s scrimmage was just 40 minutes, with four 10-minute quarters. Indiana has two more scrimmages that will be 48 minutes in length on Sunday against Dallas and on Tuesday against San Antonio.
The Pacers resume the regular season with their first seeding game on Aug. 1 against Philadelphia.
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