The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, November 17, 2021 4:40 pm

Jackson's debut splendid in Mad Ants' victory

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Isaiah Jackson, an Indiana Pacers rookie, hadn’t played since hyperextending his left knee in his second NBA regular-season game Oct. 27.

His return – albeit with the G League’s Mad Ants – was a strong one.

The 19-year-old, 6-foot-10 center/forward out of Kentucky made 11 of 13 shots for 24 points, eight rebounds and two shot blocks in just 21 minutes, as the Mad Ants defeated the Cleveland Charge 125-113 on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

“No. 1, he’s a super nice kid and I have to keep reminding myself how young he is, just because he’s so gifted athletically. He’s easy to work with, he’s coachable, and a majority of this stuff is new to him,” Mad Ants coach Tom Hankins said.

“I helped with the (Pacers’) Summer League and was around him a lot. His level of improvement over five games at Summer League was the quickest I’ve ever seen with anyone. I think that’s what he’ll do playing with us and the Pacers. The point is he’s got tremendous upside, he’s got great talent.”

The Mad Ants (3-1) improved to 2-0 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, where attendance has averaged only 260, including 285 on Wednesday.

“I think today was a good day to showcase what I’ve been working on with me being out and stuff,” said Jackson, who was on a minutes restriction and admitted his raw game could use some polish in the G League.

“It’s been fun, just getting back (in action) and to work on my game. Not that I’m not working on my game with the Pacers, it’s just they hold you to a standard. Through the years, it’s going to get better. But down here, there’ a little more leeway.”

Jackson, a first-round pick (22nd overall) by the Los Angeles Lakers, was acquired by the Pacers in a five-team deal.

The Mad Ants play seven more “home games” at Gainbridge Fieldhouse this season with the other 14 at Memorial Coliseum.

Justin Anderson had 23 points and nine rebounds for the Mad Ants, who got 20 points apiece from Duane Washington Jr. and Keifer Sykes. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Sykes gave Fort Wayne a 103-101 lead with 10:09 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Mad Ants led the rest of the way.

Terry Taylor had eight points and 10 rebounds for the Mad Ants, who out-rebounded the Charge 57-35.

Cleveland (2-4), which lost on back-to-back days to the Mad Ants, was led by Justin James’ 30 points and seven rebounds. Kyle Guy had 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Malik Newman added 21 points.

The Mad Ants next play the Wisconsin Herd on Friday in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

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