The Indiana Pacers kicked off the play-in tournament in the Eastern Conference with an outstanding victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

Domantas Sabonis led the way for the Pacers with an all-around performance as the Pacers thrashed the Hornets. Sabonis finished with 14 points, nine assists and 21 rebounds in the team’s 144-117 victory. The All-Star’s performance allowed everybody on the team to contribute in the win.

“He’s a point forward, and sometimes when you’re a point guard, you have to score more, and sometimes you have to assist more and make the right plays,” said Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren. “That’s what I thought he was doing tonight. He was passing, hitting cutters, making the right play. He wants to make the right play.”

“There are many ways to impact the game, and as one of the leaders you have to do that,” Sabonis said. “So I was setting up teammates, passing, playing defense. We were up 20 early, and we just kept building the lead.”

The Pacers’ win allowed the team to snap their franchise-worst nine-game playoff losing streak. The last time the Pacers won a playoff game was in April 2018, when they defeated Cleveland in game six of a first-round series.

While the Pacers led throughout the game, it was a disappointing loss for the Hornets. Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball underperformed in his first playoff game. Ball finished with 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting from the field and 2-of-6 from long range. Plus, the rookie had four turnovers in the game. Miles Bridges led Charlotte in scoring with 23 points, while big man Cody Zeller added 17 points.

“They played like a veteran group,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said about Indiana. “They played like a tougher group that had been here before. They weren’t fazed by the moment.”

There is no time for rest for Indiana. The Pacers still have one more game to play to determine whether they make the playoffs or not. Indiana will face off against the Wizards in the final game of the play-ins on Thursday. The Pacers have to defeat Washington to claim the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference.

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