The Indiana Pacers dropped their second straight game for the first time this season, an unfortunate situation, but not a terribly surprising one given the struggles the Pacers have had against Atlanta and the Memphis Grizzlies. It felt like Indiana had every chance to win this game, but came up short when they needed to piece together winning basketball.
The fact it was a game to begin with is a bit of a pleasant surprise given how terribly Indiana played; turning the ball over on their first two possessions, falling behind 8-1, Marreese Speights going off, missing free throws throughout the first half, showcasing terrible ball control, having terrible end of quarter possessions, getting dominated by the pick and roll, starting the fourth quarter 3-17 from the field, and lingering foul trouble.
Well, that was the description of a 30-point loss. Yet Paul George's inability to hold onto a rebound with 30 seconds to go and the Pacers down four was what finally sealed the deal for Memphis in a game that featured an overabundance of ties and lead changes; a game the Pacers had an opportunity to win. They just couldn't make the necessary stops and couldn't get the necessary baskets needed to come out of the game with a W.
The defense struggled tonight containing the Grizzlies pick and roll. Five Grizzlies scored in double figures, taking a page from Indiana's philosophy, Indiana being the team barely able to get a third player in double figures. It was a frustrating game to watch, a little dull for all the excitement, mainly because the Pacers were in survival mode for all 48 minutes. At no point did they ever really take control of the game, and that's the disappointing part for a team in the middle of one of their roughest stretches of the year.
- David West had one of his finest games as a Pacer. Despite early struggles defensively against Marreese Speights, West did dig in offensively, getting a team high 22 points while adding on 13 rebounds. West was the team's only reliable option in the fourth quarter with Danny Granger on the bench in foul trouble, and he made the most of his play to keep Indiana alive. But he wasn't able to be a player who capped a comeback to win the game on his shoulders.
- Danny Granger did have the aforementioned foul troubles, ending with five, though really fouling out in a call that should've gone against him that was tacked on Roy Hibbert instead. He started off hot, but cooled off once he was unable to stay on the floor due to fouls and that really caught up with the Pacers.
- Part of that had to do with Paul George having a horrific game. He only ended up with three turnovers, but he just wasn't with it at all tonight offensively and most of the night defensively. It's not fair to single out Paul defensively since there was just no consistent defensive effort from the Pacers at all. When the Pacers did take a lead, it was the defense that let Memphis get a bucket or two to get them back in the swing of things. Roy Hibbert certainly didn't help matters with poor play against fellow All-Star Marc Gasol, but was also invisible all night. His 1-7 performance with 5 points and 7 boards may be his low point of the season, but he wasn't the only one.
- The bench seemed to play the most inspired basketball. Dahntay Jones had a solid rhythm to finish with 10 points and Jeff Foster's return to the game proved to be an absolutely difference making addition in the first half with the blue and gold trying to establish themselves in the game. At the end of the night, though everyone on the bench pitched in on the scoreboard, they didn't get enough heavy lifting in. The team is certainly missing George Hill, but also missing Two-Time Almost Pacer O.J. Mayo, who had 13 and 5 off the Memphis bench.
As mentioned, the lack of success against Atlanta and Memphis doesn't make these back-to-back losses a real surprise, but they do still hurt if only because Indiana has to turn around and play the Denver Nuggets at home tomorrow evening. If there's any silver lining about the Pacers having to bounce back from a loss at home, it's that the once scorching Nuggets are losers of seven of their last eight, short leading scorer Danilo Gallinari. But that's not enough to convince otherwise that Denver is still a dangerous team that can walk into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and steal a win, so the Pacers have to salvage some of the energy they didn't show tonight as the road heavy portion of their schedule is finally behind them.