That's the sound of the Indiana Pacers slamming face-first into rock bottom. Or maybe that was just a tree root on the way to even worse things to come. Although I would find it hard to believe that there can be any basketball played that was worse than Indiana's woeful attempt at the game in Miami on Sunday.
From the outset, the Pacers allowed the Heat to jump out to a 17-3 advantage, and although the Pacers' second-unit, led by T.J. Ford, went on a 14-0 run to keep the team at least on the court, it was only a blip on the Heat radar. Miami eventually climbed to a 66-44 advantage at halftime and by the fourth quarter even Pacers play-by-play announcer Mark Boyle was pleading for the installation of a running clock on his Twitter page. Any mercy rule would have done just fine. The result was a 114-80 stomach punch to the Pacers.
If the blue and gold had a starting unit that had any resemblance to a real NBA starting team, then Miami's 22-point halftime lead wouldn't have been so insurmountable. In the NBA, no lead is true. But, in the fashion of this season's squad, the first unit came out of coach Jim O'Brien's halftime speech with even less desire to play than how they started the game. Miami crushed the Pacers with a 32-16 third-quarter advantage. By the nine-minute mark of the fourth, A.J. Price and Josh McRoberts saw some minutes were ready to clean up with garbage time.
It was one of those nights when the only positive note for the Pacers was the fact that rookie Tyler Hansbrough became the first NBA player in four years to record a double-double without making a field goal (10 points, 10 rebounds on 0-for-5 shooting and 10-of-10 swishing from the charity stripe). Yep, that sums it up.
On the tail end of a back-to-back, the Pacers are now riding a six-game losing streak, during which the Pacers haven't reached the 100-point plateau on offense and are averaging 91 points per game, while opponents are putting up a healthy 103 ppg average. It's been an ugly streak for the Pacers. Let's see, some other fun stats from this one included: through three quarters, Indiana's starters had 25 points combined, matching what Dwyane Wade had done by himself; Miami shot 49 percent to Indiana's 31 percent; the Heat held a 55-40 rebounding edge; the blue and gold were outscored 54-24 in the paint.
So, is this as bad as it gets? The Pacers hit a nice patch of the schedule with the next four games coming against teams also with losing records. Mike Wells tweeted that O'Brien stated after the game that this team hasn't quit on him. Anybody watching tonight's game will beg to differ. More lowlights after the jump.
- The Heat had their way offensively in this game. Dwyane Wade scored 25 points in only 28 minutes, Jermaine O'Neal added 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting against his former team and the Heat enjoyed their largest victory margin this season. O'Neal, in particular, just dominated Roy Hibbert down low. The Pacers tried dumping it to Hibby in the post early, but he could never get position on the block and was forced to try hook shots and post moves from 12 feet. With him struggling mightily on defense as well, Hibbert played only 16 minutes, scored seven points and drew five fouls.
- Troy Murphy led the team in scoring. Yeah, buddy, increase that trade value! The forward totaled 16 points in 23 minutes. I have to give credit to one individual on the Pacers who I regularly ridicule on here and that's T.J. Ford. Starting on the bench again, Ford came into the game and was attacking the basket, but instead of getting stuck in the paint and forcing turnovers, he was finding his perimeter shooters and getting the ball to them. It at least created some offense and helped the Pacers go on that 14-0 run. Unfortunately, the shooters just stopped making shots. Ford finished with only 10 points and four assists, but I thought this was one of the better games he's played lately. Of course, it wasn't hard to stand out when his teammates were playing like statues made of feces.
- The cotton candy guy kept blocking the view of the FSN camera during small portions of the game. I guess that was entertaining. Yeah...
- The loss keeps the Pacers as a member of the illustrious group of five teams in the NBA that haven't reached the 10-win mark yet. The Pacers lead the group with nine wins. It includes the Warriors (8), Sixers (7), Timberwolves (7) and Nets (2).
- Mike Dunleavy may need to take some time off to get the feeling back in his legs. It was another bad shooting night for the starter as he went 1-of-10 from the field for three points in 22 minutes. As we noted here, Duns is having a hard time during this recent losing streak.
- McBobs and Price totaled a combined 14 points in their more than 12 minutes of extended playing time.
- Dahntay Jones and Earl Watson returned to the starting lineup tonight as the team's backcourt. Hibbert, Murphy and Dunleavy consisted of the frontcourt team.