Sabonis enjoying a whole new vibe with Stephenson on board

By Johnny Askounis/ [email protected]

Domantas Sabonis recorded a career-high 42 points with 18/22 field goals as the Indiana Pacers got the job done versus the Utah Jazz on the latest edition of NBA Saturdays.

“Tonight, it was my day,” the Lithuanian forward/center pointed out in the postgame press conference, “The defense played us in a way where the role was open more. I just took advantage of that. Tomorrow, it will be a different thing.”

Sabonis, 25, banked in the most points in a single game by a Pacer since T.J. Warren had 53 on August 1, 2020. Lance Stephenson with a career-high 14 assists provided plenty of his opportunities to score as their side managed to end a six-game losing streak and jump to 15-25 for the 2021-22 Regular Season.

“Lance has a lot to do with that career-high by Domas. They fit together,” explained head coach Rick Carlisle, “Lance with the ball is a guy that can make a lot of things happen. He has the ability to be unpredictable yet under control. It lets loosing things up for Domas and the rest of our team.”

Stephenson, 31, recently returned to the Pacers for a third stint. He has 13.7 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.0 rebounds over his first four appearances, including 30 points against the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday and his 16-point, 14-assists double-double to go along with six rebounds and four steals in the first win since his acquisition.

“It’s not even about stats. It’s just about a different kind of energy that we really need,” said Carlisle, “Lance has given us a different vibe as a team.”

“He’s great. He’s my guy,” added Sabonis, “Me and him have a chemistry in the pick-and-roll. He does a great job in reading the game.”

In 2017-18, Sabonis and Stephenson previously played together in Indiana.

“I feel like he got better,” noted the experienced swingman, “The older he got, he’s even better than when I was here the last time. It’s amazing the progress. He’s getting better every time.”

Four games outside the spots leading to the Play-In, the Pacers will move forward with a home-and-away series opposite the Boston Celtics. They will visit TD Garden Monday and return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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