The Indiana Pacers failed to take care of critical scoring opportunities while the Golden State Warriors cashed in their chances to hold on for the win, 120-117.
In the final six seconds, the Pacers had two shots to either win or tie the game. With the ball and down 119-117, Mike Dunleavy's top of the arc 3-ball drifted badly left. Then, after Kelen Azubuike missed one of two free throws, Travis Diener found himself with a wide open look to tie the game. It was also off left the whole way and when the ball bounced off the rim the buzzer lights were bright red.
The Pacers have had 13 games decide by three points or less and they've lost eight of them, but this one seems to hurt a little worse. I think it is the way they struggled in the fourth quarter. Seems strange to say they scored 32 points in a quarter and struggled, but they really did leave a lot of meat on the bone. Shots weren't falling so they had to scrap for every point they could find in the lane or at the line.
Danny Granger exemplified the Pacers struggles shooting tonight. Yeah, Granger scored 42 points and I'm focusing on his shooting woes. He was just was off most of the game, but like the elite scoring threat he's become, Danny took the ball to the rim and had several nice finishes and if not a finish he drew a trip to the line where he made all 14 of his free throws.
Meanwhile, the Pacers just couldn't stop Jamal Crawford and the rest of the Warriors with the game on the line. Golden State ended up shooting 39 free throws and making numerous threes down the stretch.
Still, better execution late in the fourth could've turned the game into a W for the Pacers. Despite Grangers struggles shooting the ball most of the night, it appeared he was ready to shake off those misses and win the game in crunch time. With 23 seconds left he drained a 3-ball to put the Pacers up 117-116.
Those would be the last points the Pacers would score and not coincidently, the last shot Danny would take.
The critical play was with 11 seconds left, down two and the ball on the side out of bounds. Dunleavy got the ball back from Foster after inbounding it and curled around to shoot the three. No doubt he had visions of running off the court a hero with the Golden State fans booing in frustration. The opportunity was there and he obviously wanted to take it.
The problem is, Granger was tuned up to win this game and as Dun began rising to shoot Danny was popping out, open to catch the ball. A defender was trailing, so getting a clean three off would've been tough, kind of like in Phoenix (doh!), but if not a three, he could've driven past the defender and at worst ended up at the line. All that speculation is moot, though, since Dun took the shot.
So now the Pacers head to Salt Lake City for an always tough game against the Jazz tomorrow night and the reality of a 1-4 road trip is hard to avoid. Without a doubt, the Pacers keep us entertained for the full 48 minutes. But with each loss, the number of casual fans around at the end will continue to dwindle.
- Three seconds into the game, Danny Granger hit a 15-footer and the race was on. What's the record for the quickest hoop to start a game off the tip? I can't believe I found something to complain about in a 42-point game for Danny. Man, he made that 42 seem easy because if he had shot the ball more like he has of late, he would've made 50 look easy.
- Jeff Foster started for Roy Hibbert which made sense with the small and active Warriors front court. Foster couldn't convert several scoring opportunities as he came down with a case of the bunny bricks. T.J. Ford replaced Jeff when JOB decided to go real small. Naturally, T.J. Found himself in a collision on his first trip up the court. The good news was that he made the free throws and kept playing with no additional problems. In fact, he must've felt pretty good because it wasn't long before he scored on a nice one-handed reverse layup high over Andris Biedrens. We'll see if he can go again, tomorrow after playing 24 minutes tonight.
- The Pacers point of emphasis offensively tonight was to take the ball to the rim. The team passed up jumpers early to take the ball inside for a better shot. Several drives were met with no resistance. This was most apparent with Danny Granger, as 33 made a concerted effort to push the ball into the lane.
- It didn't last long, but the Pacers played pretty good defense in the first quarter, getting out and challenging Golden State's shooters which forced them to put the ball on the floor and created some turnovers. The 23-point quarter for Golden State was one of the better defensive efforts for the Pacers in some time. Pretty much went down hill from there, but at least there was some defense to point to tonight.
- Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy struggled big time against their former employers. Murph missed all four of his shots and finished with seven points and six rebounds, well below the double-doubles he's been averaging. Dun's was 4-14, listened to boos every time he touched the ball and his unfortunate finish is chronicled above.
- Early in the second quarter, Danny Granger snapped on Marco Belinelli when the Italian swung an elbow and caught Danny in the grill. After having his teeth knocked out twice already this season, Danny is a bit sensitive. Both players were hit with T's.
- Jarrett Jack had what could've been the play of the game had the Pacers held on to win. Instead it just ends up as a note in the bullets, nonetheless worthy of some praise. With the Pacers up two and about 1:30 left in the game. Jeff Foster had tapped a missed three by Jack, trying to keep the ball alive amidst a scramble for the rebound. It appeared headed the other way when Jamal Crawford dove to tap the ball up to Andris Biedrins. Just as the ball reached Biedrins, Jack came flying (literally) out of nowhere to tap the ball again. This time it ended up securely in Foster's hands. The Pacers took a timeout but couldn't capitalize on the saved possession as Granger missed a baseline jumper after the timeout. Still, an absolutely incredible effort by Jack and in fact, a nice positive to end on