T.J. Warren had scored 40 points only once in his NBA career before the sixth-year pro went off for 53 on Saturday night in the Pacers‘ first game of the NBA restart to carry Indiana to a 127-121 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
A small forward 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. He said he had to step up
“I was very excited coming into the game. I knew I wanted to get going,” Warren said. “Came in with the same mentality as any other game. Fortunate enough to make some shots tonight and get the win.”
Warren hit 40 points on Nov. 1, 2017, against the Wizards. His previous high this season was 36 against the Hornets on Jan. 6. His total ranks third in Pacers history.
“It feels amazing,” Warren said of hitting 50. “Having a hot hand and continue to shoot. The worst thing you can do is miss. You gotta stay aggressive and keep firing away. Philly is a great team. We knew we were down a couple guys so I had to step up.”
Warren also became the fifth player in NBA history to hit nine 3s and nine 2-point field goals in a game, joining James Harden (who has done it four times), Damian Lillard (twice) and Kobe Bryant and Stephen Curry (once each).
“I’ve always been the underdog. I feel like that’s my more permanent position,” Warren said. “I’m kind of comfortable with that, being the underdog. Gotta keep doing that and keep getting better day by day.”
Joel Embiid had 41 points and 21 rebounds for the Sixers, making Saturday’s game the first time since 1963 that one player had 50 points and an opponent had 40 points and 20 rebounds. In the previous game, which went to double overtime, Wilt Chamberlain scored 56 while Elgin Baylor recorded 46 points and 23 rebounds.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.