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Lance Stephenson Had A 20-Point First Quarter For The Pacers (Yes, In 2022)

There was an awful lot of intrigue surrounding a player returning to the floor on Wednesday night in Indiana, as Kyrie Irving made his debut for the Nets this season after the team allowed him to come back as a part-time player for road games, as he still can’t play at home due to the vaccine mandate in New York City and his refusal to get one.

However, focus quickly shifted from Kyrie’s return to action to a different return, as Lance Stephenson has come back to the Pacers (for a third time) on a 10-day hardship deal after spending a week-plus in Atlanta earlier this year. Stephenson was a key member of some of the Pacers’ best teams of the early 2010s and had a brief career revival to end the 2016 season by returning to Indiana.

Once again, something about playing in Indiana has helped Stephenson turn back the clock, as he entered the game to a standing ovation midway through the first quarter and in six minutes went 8-of-9 from the field, including 4-of-5 from three, to score 20 points to carry the Pacers to a 37-32 advantage, punctuated by a stepback three at the buzzer that blew the roof off of Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

The best part of Stephenson’s first quarter barrage was the reaction of fans seeing tweets from reporters about Lance going off in Indiana and wondering if they had been transported back to 2012, as his signing on a 10-day hadn’t exactly registered as national news. For at least a quarter, though, we got a throwback night in Indiana as Stephenson stole the shine from Kyrie’s return with an out of body experience for six minutes. Between Lance’s first quarter on Wednesday and Joe Johnson’s return to the NBA in Boston, it’s been quite the month for fans of the early 2010’s Eastern Conference.