(Reuters) - Frenchman Ian Mahinmi has spent most of his NBA career in the shadows, relatively speaking, but on Saturday he enjoyed a turn in the spotlight.
The 29-year-old center overcame a wonky back with the performance of his career to push the Indiana Pacers into a 2-2 tie in their first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors.
Mahinmi, who had his playing time limited earlier in the series because of a sprained lower back, recorded playoff highs of 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in Indiana’s 100-83 win.
”I can’t take the credit for this today,” a modest Mahinmi told reporters at what he said was his first postseason press conference.
“Most of my shots were dunks and shots under the rim where I just had to go up and dunk it. Today my teammates did an awesome job at finding me. Today was a total team effort.”
Mahinmi played just 17 minutes in the series opener, 22 minutes in Game Two and 24 minutes in Game Three. But he played 33 minutes in the home win on Saturday,
“It’s not the best right now,” Mihinmi said when asked about his back. “There are times where I feel 100 percent, there are times less. I‘m fine.”
Mahinmi was born in Roeun in northern France to immigrant parents, his father from Benin and mother from Jamaica.
He was chosen 28th overall in the 2005 NBA draft by the San Antonio Spurs, where he played only 32 games before moving to the Dallas Mavericks in 2010.
He helped the Mavericks win the 2010-11 NBA championship in a supporting role and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals with the Pacers in 2013 and 2014.
“It’s been a long journey for me,” he said. “It’s not over. I’ve worked a lot. Today, to be able to help my team in that type of performance, it’s a good feeling.”
Reporting by Tim Wharnsby in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Both