Even after Derrick Rose hit a closing seconds three to put the Bulls up five at the end of the third quarter, the Pacers found themselves within striking distance in Chicago, with a prime opportunity to put a fourth quarter effort together to hopefully grab a huge road victory, but an infuriating fourth quarter collapse both internally and externally gave the Pacers a lopsided defeat that was not reflective of at least three quarters of the game.
The game was actually a very upbeat one early. Indiana, in large part thanks to big play from Josh McRoberts and Paul George got the Pacers an eight point lead, but Chicago had the gap closed to just two by the quarter’s end. The game seemed to be heading in the wrong direction when Chicago opened up a 51-42 lead late in the second, but Indiana stormed back and went into the locker room down four.
Rose was quiet in the first half, but turned on the kill switch in the third quarter, but McRoberts went swipe for swipe against the mighty Rose, scoring 13 third quarter points en route to a career high 20 points. McRoberts was active on both sides, in helping to frustrate Carlos Boozer defensively and send home message after message on offense. The Pacers closed another nine point Bulls lead all the way, and had the game tied at 70 all.
After four quick points by Chicago, Indiana substituted James Posey for McRoberts and Chicago pushed the lead to five, thanks to Derrick Rose’s "of all shots…" three pointer. From there? Well, this is where the fun begins:
Rose began the quarter quick, and helped push the game into double digits before A.J. Price got his swag going, and converted a three point play, and got to the line and made it two more to get Indiana to within six. Chicago pushed it back out, but Indiana did a great job of getting to the line. Danny Granger found his way to the line with the team down nine and missed both free throws.
A couple of minutes later (and no points on the scoreboard), Chicago leading by 13, sent Mike Dunleavy to the free throw line, where he went just 1-2 (for the record, he had missed back-to-back free throws earlier). Here’s where it got interesting. With five minutes left and the Pacers down ten, Indiana received a benefit of the doubt call regarding an out of bounds play. As the blue and gold brought it up the court, Jim O’Brien was whistled for a technical foul. Apparently, he was unhappy about something that resulted in Indiana forcing a Chicago turnover, and gave the Bulls a free point as a result.
To this point, Josh McRoberts had been sitting out of the game for nearly 12 minutes of game action, and Posey was working hard to be the game’s Most Valuable Fouler, committing two key fouls in the quarter, on top of not doing anything else. A minute later, McRoberts finally gets back in the game is posterized by Ronnie Brewer, while somehow committing a foul on the play. McRoberts and Boozer fight down low for the rebound, and before you can blink, McRoberts has picked up a technical for playing basketball and O’Brien had been tossed for arguing that there was no need for there to be a technical.
In this entire stretch, the Pacers didn’t put a single point on the scoreboard (thanks in part to two more missed free throws, this time by Paul George). The result was a game mercifully cut to 21 points by late free throws by George, as the Pacers completed a magnificent collapse that saw them outscored 40-19 in the final 16 minutes of game action.
After the jump, your guess is as good as mine:
- Josh McRoberts really played a fantastic ball game tonight. Not only did he have 20 points, but he corralled 8 boards, 2 blocked shots, and a steal; this on top of playing exceptionally well outside of any statistical contribution measured. McRoberts was the catalyst for a struggling Pacers team in the second half, one brightly highlighted when he took his exit, and the team mustered 12 points in 12 minutes. By the time he was brought back in, it was impossible for him, or anyone, to help the Pacers get back in the game. So why was Josh out so long?
- James Posey was effective only at being detrimental to the team’s success, and it’s no stretch to say Josh’s third quarter was the only reason the Pacers had the game within striking distance in the second half. When you can easily argue that McRoberts was the team’s most valuable player in these last two games, how can you justify a potential trip back to street clothes, especially when Jim O’Brien did his fair share to choke this one away by limiting McRoberts (and to a far lesser extent, Roy Hibbert) in the fourth quarter.
- The fourth quarter really highlighted a lot of negative play and feelings, but A.J. Price was in full swag mode. All in all, he finished with 12 points, and continued to excel at his microwave offense, finding points when the Pacers needed points. He was quick to draw the foul and make a big play, and chat it up with the person who was unfortunate enough to foul him. Price isn’t a player of that kind of level, but when so few guys on the team are willing to be outspoken in this degree, Price is a welcome addition.
- Paul George was a missed three pointer away from exploding into a big night. When the rookie entered the game and quickly dropped a pair of baskets, he lined up for a corner three that unfortunately rattled out, and with it, his entire night fizzled out. George remained involved, but wasn’t finding any success against a far better defense than he had played against in recent games. The rook finished 3-10 for 8 points, and in going 0-3 from range, I’d like to see him back off of that shot and step inside more often. His activity was nice to see, but he is still a rookie, unfortunately.
- Jeff Foster reached a notable milestone tonight as he eclipsed his 5000th career rebound. He becomes just the fifth player to reach that mark as a Pacer, further solidifying Foster’s solid, much respected career in the blue and gold.
It was one thing to expect a win tonight, but it was unfortunate it had to end up such a lopsided affair. The Pacers lost the fourth quarter 33-17, raising that oh so familiar question: what the heck happens to this team when the fourth quarter comes around? The team is back home Monday as they have a date with Toronto, and a chance to get another home win. It’s a frustrating endeavor, but amidst this entire stretch of dreadful basketball, it’s important the team continue to hold serve in home games against like minded opponents. Maybe help is on the way, maybe it’s not. Monday comes first.