Just another discouraging loss on this road trip which mercifully ends tomorrow night in Denver. Although, don't expect much mercy from the Nuggs as I'm sure they've seen enough replays of the 144 they gave up in Indy to be suitably motivated.
The Pacers should be motivated too after dropping their fourth straight game thanks to a flurry of second half turnovers (13 of the 19 for the game) that breathed life into the Blazers. Portland scored 21 points off of the turnovers and caught fire from behind the arc in the second half as Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernandez were repeatedly left open to knock down shots.
The NBA game is 48 minutes for a reason. It is a perfect amount of time test both teams and determine who deserves to win.
The Pacers played the first 15 minutes of the game as if they were determined to win. The starters were strong early, with Tyler Hansbrough holding his own against LaMarcus Aldridge as they doubled the Blazers big fella making it tough for him to make a play. LMA would only have two points in that first 15 minutes as the second unit for the Pacers continued the strong play at both ends, pushing the lead up to 16.
Then as if foreshadowing the fourth-quarter fade, Aldridge scored his first field goal as the Blazers started their way back into the game. By the half the lead was down to seven. Midway through the third quarter, my son awoke with an ear ache which had me running out to the 24-hour pharmacy. When I left the Pacers were up by six points, but when I returned about 20 minutes later, the Blazers were up by 11.
After Nicolas Batum drained his third three-pointer of the fourth quarter, Slick Leonard was so disgusted with Brandon Rush for continuing to give Batum room to shoot that I thought he was going to take off the headset and go wait for the team on the bus.
Batum finished with 23 points and while Aldridge was devastating in the second half, finishing with 25 and 12. For some reason, the Pacers didn't double LMA like they did at the outset of the game and when the Blazers weren't nuking the Pacers from behind the arc, they were punishing them with the pick 'n roll. Jim O'Brien offered an explanation about going away from the double-team on Aldridge when Jeff Foster was on the court and then when LMA was had the ball on a spot where they don't double, but none of it really made sense.
The game is 48 minutes. You have to play them all like you expect to win.
After the jump, a few more thoughts.
- The Blazers were ripe to be beaten tonight. Along with their current list of injured players including Brandon Roy and Marcus Camby, Andre Miller had to leave the game early with some flu issues. The Blazers really had nothing going offensively, but when they started getting open looks, the confidence built and soon it was a dumpster fire for the Pacers.
- A.J. Price and Paul George looked great in their first half rotation. Price didn't play much in the second half but wasn't real good when he did. George didn't play until desperation time in the closing seconds. JOB obviously has trust issues, but after Rush's recent play he may have to get over it and let George try to defend those opponent wings when it counts.
- Darren Collison also looked great early, but struggled at crunch time finishing with 14 points, 7 assists but 5 turnovers.
- Roy Hibbert returned to the starting lineup and followed the same trend of looking good early and then looking out of place when it mattered. Somehow in the first half, when things were going great, Hibbert poked himself in the eye after grabbing a rebound and it knocked him to the ground for several seconds.
- Danny Granger had a nice efficient scoring night with 24 points on 15 shots, but couldn't ride to the rescue when the Pacers needed a hero.