Skidding Hornets visit Pacers for play-in clash

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Indiana Pacers' Domantas Sabonis (11) dunks against Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
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The Indiana Pacers won their regular-season finale to secure home-court advantage for Tuesday's play-in game against the Charlotte Hornets.

Whether that clash in Indianapolis will serve as any form of an edge for the ninth-seeded Pacers (34-38) remains to be seen.

Indiana, after all, won just 13 of 23 games at home this season. The Pacers also lost two of the three meetings with the 10th-seeded Hornets (33-39) in 2020-21, including a 114-97 decision at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 2.

"We're home in front of our fans, so that's going to be a lot of fun," Domantas Sabonis said after recording his 48th double-double of the season in Indiana's 125-113 win over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday in Tampa, Fla.

"The goal was to win (Sunday) and get that homecourt advantage and now we've got a day to prepare."

Sabonis averaged a career-best 20.3 points and a team-high 12.0 rebounds this season. He had 25 and 16, respectively, on Sunday in his return from a one-game absence due to a left quad injury.

The two-time All-Star recorded eight points and 10 boards in the April 2 encounter versus Charlotte before sitting out the fourth quarter with a left ankle sprain. Team leading scorer Malcolm Brogdon (21.2) did not play in that contest due to a sore hip and has been nursing a hamstring injury that has kept him sidelined since April 29.

Per coach Nate Bjorkgren, Brogdon, Aaron Holiday (toe) and Edmond Sumner (knee) could be available to play on Tuesday. Big man Myles Turner (toe), however, already has been ruled out. Second-leading scorer Caris LeVert (20.7) is out due to health and safety protocols.

T.J. McConnell stepped up Sunday by tying a career high with 17 assists to go along with 12 points.

"The injuries that have decimated our team have kind of forced me into a (new) role," McConnell said. "I'm always going to get people the ball and get into the lane and look for them, but ... it's made me look to score more. I think that's what this team has needed from me over these stretches and that's what I've tried to do."

The Hornets are skidding into the play-in tournament on the heels of losing five in a row and 15 of their last 21 overall.

"This one stinks, but Tuesday night's a new season. ... That's the beauty of it," Charlotte coach James Borrego said after his team squandered an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 115-110 loss to the Washington Wizards.

Terry Rozier, who averaged a team-best 20.4 points this season, collected 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists on Sunday. He led the Hornets with 20 points in a 116-106 setback to Indiana on Jan. 27 before sinking five 3-pointers two nights later in a 108-105 victory over the Pacers.

"Everybody's down right now, but we've got another one," said Rookie of the Year candidate LaMelo Ball, who collected 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists against the Wizards.

Ball made 9-of-17 shots from the floor in his two games versus Indiana this season, however he missed all seven of his 3-point attempts.

The Hornets confirmed Monday that forward Gordon Hayward (19.6 points per game) will not play Tuesday due to the sprained foot that has sidelined him since April 2.

--Field Level Media