INDIANAPOLIS — Reggie Perry was relaxing at home when a message popped up on his cellphone late Wednesday night.
“I was in Toronto around 12:30 a.m. playing the video game when my agent texted me like, ‘Yo, Indiana, I want you to come,'” he said. . “So I was literally sitting in my living room. I just packed my bag that night and left (Thursday) morning.”
Perry, who had played with Toronto’s G League team the 905 Raptors, arrived in Indianapolis Thursday night. The Pacers signed him on Friday to a 10-day contract as part of the NBA’s COVID-19 hardship exception to bolster their depleted frontcourt, and, at 6-foot-8, Perry has become their most great player available before hosting the Bulls a few hours later at Gainbridge. Land house.
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“That’s literally what (coach Rick Carlisle) told me. As soon as I met him (he said), ‘You’re the biggest player on the list, so you’ll play (centre) for us. You’re scouting and rolling,” Perry said. “That’s literally exactly what he told me. It was a great conversation. He was happy to have me. All the coaches and players, they all welcomed me with open arms.”
Perry said he took a crash course in Indiana’s offensive and defensive plans before facing the Bulls and 7-foot center Nikola Vucevic.
Two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis (COVID-19 protocols), top shot blocker Myles Turner (left foot stress reaction), third-year center Goga Bitadze (right foot contusion) and cheering rookie Isaiah Jackson (sprained right ankle) were all out, ensuring Perry would play.
“It felt good to be back on an NBA floor,” said Perry, who was drafted 57th overall by the Clippers in 2020 and traded to Brooklyn. “…I kind of adapted to plays on the fly and pretty quickly and stuff like that, defensive concepts, so that was good.”
6-5 undrafted rookie Terry Taylor made his first NBA start at center and recorded his second straight double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds in 38 minutes against the Bulls. Perry gave Taylor a break and had two points and a rebound in 10 minutes in an eventual 122-115 loss to Chicago.
The Bulls scored 70 points in the paint, led by Vucevic, but Carlisle said he was happy with Perry’s performance, especially since Perry wasn’t even in the United States when the Pacers called.
“I was impressed with him (Friday) afternoon when we put our basic stuff on,” Carlisle said. “He’s got great basketball skills, good feel. (He) picked up about 8-10 things. He was with (assistant) Mike Weinar around 2:30 (pm) and then we did our walk at 4 hours, went through those 10 things again and he got them.”
Perry only fired the ball once, draining a jump shot from midrange early in the second quarter to cut Chicago’s lead to four points. The former Mississippi State standout was confident in the game, though he admitted it wasn’t by design.
“I was looking for success, but they were turning down Lance (Stephenson),” Perry said. “I realized how open I was, so I just shot it.”
Caris LeVert, who scored a season-high 42 points against the Bulls, attended training camp in Brooklyn last season with Perry. They played five games together before LeVert was traded to Indiana.
“I know Reggie very well,” LeVert said of his reconnection with Perry. “I know his game, so we’ve had some continuity, and it’s easy to talk to him because, like I said, I already know him a bit.”
Carlisle said Saturday that Sabonis was “close” and could exit league health and safety protocols “in the coming days,” but Perry will most likely be called up again Sunday in Cleveland. The Cavaliers feature one of the tallest and most talented frontcourts in the NBA with 6-10 Jared Allen, an outstanding rim protector and lob threat, and promising rookie 6-11 Evan Mobley.
Perry played with the Trail Blazers earlier this season on a 10-day contract and is excited to have another chance to prove himself in the NBA with the Pacers.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Perry said. “I’m blessed to have this opportunity, and I’m blessed that the Pacers are calling me and (playing). I’m just happy to be here.”
Follow IndyStar Pacers beat writer James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid. Contact him by email: [email protected]