No, folks. It’s not 2014. The year is 2022 and Stephenson is showing out.
In his first home game with the Pacers since the 2017-18 season, Stephenson came off the bench six minutes into the first quarter to give his team a spark. He did that and then some, scoring 20 straight points to give Indiana a lead at the end of the quarter.
The highlight of his record-setting run came at the buzzer, when he drilled a sidestep three-pointer over Nets’ forward James Johnson to extend the Pacers’ lead to five.
Stephenson’s first quarter performance was nothing short of historic. He became the first player in NBA history to score 20 points off the bench in the first quarter and became the first player since Steph Curry last April to score 20 straight points in the first frame.
Fans have come to expect such performances from a player like Curry. But Stephenson? Forget about it.
Nevertheless, NBA Twitter quickly embraced the 31-year-old veteran with open arms after his first quarter outburst on Wednesday.
Stephenson cooled off significantly by his standards in the second quarter. At the half, he had 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting and four assists. The Pacers led the Nets, 73-60.
Stephenson just recently signed with Indiana on a 10-day contract. Just a few weeks ago, he played six games with the Atlanta Hawks while the team was dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.
You could call Stephenson’s first quarter against the Nets a fluke. But if he can keep putting together performances anywhere close to the one he did on Wednesday, he could play himself into a much longer, and far more lucrative, contract.