It took a lot to not overload the snark thinking back on this game, nearly giving it a headline of Pacers lose to a team that scored five points in the fourth quarter. Maybe that would've been perfect. There probably isn't better way to sum up just how pathetic of a show this was. To reiterate, the Indiana Pacers lost a game to the Toronto Raptors, who scored five points in the fourth quarter. The Pacers were at home.
It was the Raptors who were supposed to lose this game; they were the ones who had a laundry list of excuses in their back pocket ready to use from injuries to a triple overtime loss the night before. Instead, it ended up being the Pacers who were frantically searching for theirs, stuttering with possible reasons like taking the opponent lightly maybe? Having an extra day off? Whatever the reason, the Pacers followed up some of their most fluid offensive play on the season in the game's opening minutes with 45 minutes of some of their worst.
Indiana opened the game on a 13-4 run, priming themselves to run Toronto out of the building, but the Raptors responded immediately and responded in a way the Pacers weren't prepared for. It gave Toronto a lead they would keep at the double figure barrier and when Indiana finished the game shooting 32% from their inability to finish around the basket at any point tonight, it becomes crystal clear why this game ended up the way it did.
But the Raptors shot the ball poorly themselves in the second half, going over six minutes with no field goal in the third quarter and in the entire fourth, hitting just a single shot from the floor. Yet the Pacers couldn't get within double digits until the game wound down and they were able to draw within two late. But missed shots and missed second chance opportunities would seal the win for the Raptors, who have to look at the numbers and wonder aloud, "We won?"
Lance Stephenson got the Pacers started off right, scoring five points in the Pacers' opening run, but made a minimal impact beyond that, finishing with seven and hardly being visible on the floor in the second half, mostly because he wasn't on the floor late. Before diving into how everyone was really bad at offense, it's worth noting how well the team did play defensively. While local pro team fans aren't really aware of this, the Pacers really resembled an NFL team with a stout defense and a go nowhere offense. Defense can win you championships, but not if you don't have an offense. There was nothing they could do right, even those few times they were able to do something right.
Ultimately, it was those kinds of circumstances that sent the Pacers into the L column. When you can't finish around the basket at even 50%, your chances of losing are far above that. Frustration has been the single identifier of this young season, and it's hard to take frustration to a higher level than losing to a 1-6 team that scored five points in the final quarter. Yet that's where the Pacers are and that's where the Pacers will have to be moving forward.
Tyler Hansbrough was really the team's sole light throughout the game; his energy was big in numerous defensive stops and trips to the line, but it wasn't enough when the other four players on the court couldn't back his play up with positive results. Roy Hibbert had six points and nine rebounds. David West and Paul George were a combined 6-26. George Hill had 18 points, but needed 20 shots to get there. Then add in a bench that had only 18 points on the game and whatever positives the team had built up leading to tonight's game seems more like a sand castle than any kind of foundation for success.
The Pacers will travel to Milwaukee to face the Bucks tomorrow night, in hopes that they can stay perfect on the second night of back-to-backs.
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