Despite playing some of their worst basketball all year, the Pacers managed to hang around. They fell behind by 20 points twice, and each time, managed to cut that lead in half. It wasn’t a game they should’ve ever been competitive in; they scored 14 points and only scored two points in the first four minutes of the second quarter, but despite it all, the Hawks left the door open. Not just a little. The door was wide open.
Unfortunately, the Pacers weren’t able to take advantage of Atlanta begging to give the game away, and fell in a loss where the team continued to struggle with offensive rebounds, free throw differential, and turnovers down the stretch. The Pacers and Hawks struggled out of the gate, and were only able to manage 30 points between the two of them as the second quarter began. Both teams were in a considerable slump, but Atlanta managed to work their way out of it while Indiana continued to miss everything.
At their lowest point, the Pacers were shooting just 24% and missed their first 11 three point attempts as Atlanta pushed the game up over 20 points. Brandon Rush helped spark a quick comeback in the second quarter, as the Pacers almost miraculously cut the lead to 13 at halftime. Josh McRoberts drew the game within ten, but they weren’t able to build on it, and couldn’t get any baskets until they were back down by sixteen or more again.
The Hawks pushed the game to 20 again towards the end of the third, but another quick run by the Pacers drew the game within 15, to give Indiana a fighting chance in the final quarter. At the start of the quarter, Atlanta was willing to give the Pacers a chance, wasn’t willing to take charge of the game. When they’d get a stop, they’d fail to convert on the offensive end, when they scored, the Hawks followed suit.
Rush drew the game within ten with six minutes to go, but a frustrating series of turnovers, offensive rebounds, and free throws for Atlanta made it difficult for Indiana to push the game, especially when they weren’t getting good shots, and weren’t getting much benefit from the whistle. A.J. Price drew the game within seven, but that would be as close as they would get, as Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford helped shut this one down as the time wound down.
The Pacers struggled mightily with shooting tonight, finishing 37% from the field, and just 8-28 deep, though a drastic improvement over their 0-11 start. The Hawks outscored Indiana by 12 at the free throw line. Indiana won the turnover battle, but chose poor times to commit them. All in all, Indiana struggled all night, but somehow ended up in this one. It was unlike many games you’ll see, and for good reason; this one was ugly and frustrating.
After the jump, more on Indiana’s twelve man rotation:
- Danny Granger finished the night a woeful 3-14 from the field. He worked to drive the lane tonight, and got eight free throw attempts out of those trips. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to find any consistency, going 0-5 deep, and not getting any superstar calls. Early in the game, he hurt his ankle, but did return. Unfortunately, with the Pacers working towards the comeback, Granger hut his ankle again, and gingerly walked towards the bench. Unfortunately, Roy Hibbert didn’t fair any better, going just 3-14, and didn’t get a single trip to the line. Horford frustrated Hibbert all night, and the big fella just couldn’t get a rhythm going at all.
- Josh McRoberts had five points to open the third quarter to push the game as close as it would be until the second half of the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get anything consistent, as he’d force his next couple of shots as the Pacers would fade away into another 20-point deficit.
- The point guard position was an area of concern for the Pacers. Jeff Teague did well to take advantage of his opportunities on the Pacers, and Darren Collison’s game was too quiet to be useful. T.J. Ford ended up with ten points, and was one of the team’s most reliable options offensively when he was on the floor. A.J. Price was given the chance to close the game out, and managed to make some good plays, but couldn’t find any focus from his shot, making just one basket on a three point play.
- Tyler Hansbrough saw floor time tonight in the second quarter, but only for one minute. Despite Hansbrough getting an offensive rebound and a steal in that minute, but Jim O’Brien didn’t seem terribly pleased with what he brought to the game, and Hansbrough spent the rest of the night on the bench.
- Brandon Rush and Mike Dunleavy were the most consistent players tonight, annoying considering they’re more or less the same position. It’s a difficult predicament when both players are playing well, as O’Brien opted to run the both of them at the same time with Granger on the floor. Both helped add a little life to the Pacers cadaver throughout the night.
There’s little positive to say about this loss except maybe you could take some positives in knowing the Pacers remained competitive, even if it was in the most uncompetitive way possible. The loss puts the Pacers back at the familiar .500 spot, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier, as they travel to Chicago on Monday. You can rest assured that the Bulls won’t be so merciful in shutting the Pacers out if they break this kind of weak effort.