Pacers host new-look Warriors
“It was a great road trip,” Oladipo said. “Unfortunately, we wanted to end it a little better. If we look at the bigger picture, it was a great road trip for us and we just have to continue to keep getting better like I said. Confidence is high.”
The Pacers won the first three games of the trek before losing to Denver 107-104 on Tuesday night. The trip started with a victory at Golden State.
The Pacers will see a different Golden State team Thursday night in Indianapolis after beating the short-handed Warriors 92-81 on Friday.
The Warriors were without all four All-Stars — Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — because of injuries and illness. All but Curry have returned to action. Curry will miss the rest of the regular season with a left MCL sprain.
With four regular season games remaining, the Pacers (46-32) are in the No. 5 spot in the Eastern Conference and appear destined for a first-round matchup with Cleveland or Philadelphia.
“I think it is going to make us road-tough and battle-tested,” Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said of the road trip. “It’s definitely prepping us for the task at hand, which is going to the playoffs and trying to get some games. I think we have been doing a good job of handling it. Just going out there and just playing as a team.”
Pacers coach Nate McMillan was pleased overall.
“We did some good things on this trip,” McMillan said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win (against Denver) and I thought (we had) a couple of mental mistakes down the stretch, (Denver) made some baskets that cost us this game. I think we looked a little fatigued there. I thought there was some mental fatigue.”
Oladipo, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday, scoring 25 points against Denver. He finished the road trip averaging 25.8 points, 6.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 steals while shooting 62.9 percent from the field.
Durant scored 34 as the Warriors beat host Oklahoma City 111-107 on Tuesday night. The Warriors (57-21) are locked into the second seed in the Western Conference.
“We want to build on this and keep building momentum towards the playoffs,” Durant told TNT.
Durant said it was a different game, missing several players.
“We’re missing the missile (Curry) out there,” Durant said. “We figured it out. We were moving the ball, we were being aggressive. Being down not just Steph but Andre (Iguodala), (Kevon) Looney and Shaun (Livingston). Everybody stepped up.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr called it “a hell of a win, especially without our guards. I loved how these guys played and competed.”
Reserve center Damian Jones contributed eight points for the Warriors in his first significant minutes (14).
“Damian deserves credit, he’s really, really worked hard,” Kerr said. “You can see the type of physical presence he has out there. It was fun opportunity to see what he could do.”
Point guard Quinn Cook has scored in double figures in 11 consecutive games for the Warriors, who are expected to find a way to put Cook on the playoff roster.
In 12 games against the Pacers, Thompson has averaged 26.3 points on 48.2 percent from 3-point range. That’s four points better than his average against any other team.