LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — T.J. Warren scored a career-high 53 points, Victor Oladipo added 15 after reversing course on opting out of the NBA restart and the Indiana Pacers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 127-121 on Saturday night.
A sixth-year player acquired from Phoenix in an offseason trade, Warren was 20 of 29 from the field and 9 of 12 from 3-point range in his first game with at least 50 points. All four of those shooting numbers were career highs.
“I just wanted to be aggressive, do what I do best,” Warren said. “My teammates did a great job of finding me, and just staying aggressive and locked in and engaged was really key for us.”
The Pacers (40-26) took control of the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference by breaking a tie with the 76ers and winning the season series. Both teams have clinched playoff spots.
Joel Embiid had 41 points and 21 rebounds for the Sixers, who couldn't hang on after turning a 10-point deficit late in the first half into a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter. Before the pandemic-forced shutdown, Philadelphia had lost 10 of its past 11 games away from home.
Tobias Harris scored 30 points for Philadelphia, and Ben Simmons had 19 points and 13 rebounds.
But the leading trio for the Sixers wasn't enough to overcome Warren, who matched a franchise record with 19 points in the first quarter.
“Give him credit; he was hot,” Harris said. “But too many times, we guarded him like he wasn’t on fire. We gave him too much space, just not enough credit for his ability to score. He punished us tonight from the beginning of the game on.”
The Pacers got the restart-opening win without two starters. Domantas Sabonis left the bubble with a left foot injury a week ago and is out indefinitely. Malcolm Brogdon, who had recovered from a COVID-19 infection that was announced on June 24, missed the game with a neck injury sustained in final scrimmage game before the restart.
Myles Turner, who scored nine points before fouling out, made his only 3-point attempt to put Indiana up for good at 110-107 with 4:34 remaining.
Harris hit a 3 in the final minute before a long clinching 3 from Warren, the first Indiana player to score at least 50 points in a game in 15 years.
“A guy that hot, you try to get him the ball,” coach Nate McMillan said. “T.J. was as hot as I’ve ever seen him, and I thought our guys did a good job of sacrificing and screening and giving him the ball.”
76ers: Embiid's 21 rebounds were one off his career high. ... The Sixers gave up 46 points in the fourth quarter after allowing just 20 in the third.
Pacers: Warren's previous career high was 40 points at Washington on Nov. 1, 2017. ... Aaron Holiday matched Oladipo with 15 points and had 10 assists.
OPTING BACK IN
Oladipo joined his teammates in Florida after initially staying home and said he was practicing with the intent to play. But there wasn’t any official word until McMillan said before the game the seventh-year guard was starting. He was 6 of 14 with a team-high seven rebounds in 32 minutes.
The two-time All-Star played just 13 games before the shutdown because of a ruptured quad tendon. He had reservations about playing in Florida because of his surgically repaired right knee.
“Let’s see how my knee responds, my body responds after tonight,” Oladipo said. “That might be the most minutes I’ve played in a game in like, what, 100 years?”
SEPARATE THOSE TWO
Embiid and Shake Milton had to be separated during an argument near the bench after the first quarter. Matisse Thybulle pulled Milton away as the guard charged toward the big man while yelling. The Sixers were down 35-29 after the first and had eight turnovers, including two each from Embiid and Milton.
76ers: San Antonio on Monday.
Pacers: Washington on Monday.