Indiana’s Doug McDermott shoots against Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball in the first half Tuesday of an Eastern Conference play-in game at Indianapolis. Darron Cummings/Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Domantas Sabonis had 14 points, 21 rebounds and nine assists, and the short-handed Indiana Pacers routed the Charlotte Hornets 144-117 in the Eastern Conference’s first play-in game Tuesday night.

Led by Sabonis and Doug McDermott, who scored 16 of his 21 points in the first quarter, the ninth-seeded Pacers snapped a franchise-worst nine-game losing streak in the postseason. They also moved within one victory of making a sixth consecutive playoff appearance.

Indiana will visit Washington, on Thursday.

It was Indiana’s first postseason win since a blowout victory against Cleveland in April 2018. And the Pacers won this one despite losing forward Caris LeVert to the league’s health and safety protocol.

Charlotte was led by Miles Bridges with 18 points and former Indiana University star Cody Zeller with 17. The Hornets finished the season with six straight losses.

The difference: Indiana’s playoff experience, which showed right from the start.

With McDermott leading the charge, Indiana started 7 of 11 from 3-point range, continually beat the Hornets to loose balls and stayed in front of Charlotte on defense.

Indiana pulled out to a 23-9 lead, and then extended the margin 40-24 after one, 69-45 at halftime and 76-45 early in the third quarter. The Hornets were never close after the opening minutes.

The Pacers finished 16 of 35 on 3s and shot 55.2% from the field overall.


HONORS: Upon further review, Indiana’s Myles Turner is the NBA’s blocked-shot champion for this season.

The NBA said Turner will be recognized as the winner in that category, even though he did not play in the required 70% of games that are typically needed for someone to qualify as a statistical leader.

Turner averaged 3.4 blocks per game in 47 games. Utah’s Rudy Gobert averaged 2.7 blocks per game in 71 games.

By NBA rule, Turner would have needed to appear in 51 games to qualify for the award, so he fell four games short. But if Turner he had played in those four additional games to reach the minimum and didn’t even block a single shot, his average would have been 3.1 per game – still well ahead of Gobert.

The exception to that rule has been established for years. The NBA allows someone to be recognized as a stat champion if, at the end of the season, “the player would have led the league in the category had he played the required number of games with his current category total.”

BUCKS: Reserve forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo will miss the start of the playoffs after suffering an avulsion fracture to his right patella tendon in his team’s regular-season finale.

Bucks officials said the 28-year-old will be out for at least two weeks and would be evaluated again at that point. Antetokounmpo underwent an MRI after a leg injury had knocked him out of a 118-112 loss at Chicago a night earlier.

The Bucks are the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and open a first-round series with the Miami Heat on Saturday.

Antetokounmpo, the older brother of Milwaukee Bucks forward and two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, has played 57 games and made three starts this year. He is averaging 2.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 9.7 minutes.

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