Paul George kept hope alive for a win longer than expected, but even a desperate, 3-point barrage in the last few minutes wasn't enough for the Pacers to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit on the road as the Portland Trail Blazers executed their own offense far better down the stretch to earn the win, 106-102.
PG will fill the highlight reels as he pumped in a career-high 43 points, including 17 fourth-quarter points, but it simply wasn't enough on this night. Not when so many things went awry for the Pacers. Looking back over the game, there were strong signs of problems which were exacerbated by the Blazers taking full advantage, by adjusting to the Pacers defense and then going in for the kill at winning time.
LaMarcus Alrdidge took plenty of contested fade away shots, but ended up making more than his fair share to end the game with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Mo Williams gave the Blazers a nice boost off the bench in the second half and Damian Lillard brought home the win, matching one of PG's late 3-balls with a dagger three to finish with 26 points.
Really, with no vested interest, this was simply a fantastic game to watch the big-time talent make big-time plays down the stretch. But with a trained eye on how the Pacers roll, there were plenty of cracks in the 16-1 armor that revealed themselves and added another notch to the loss column.
- Roy Hibbert seemed a bit off his game early in the game, starting out two for his first seven shots with a pair of turnovers. This with plenty of good touches in solid post position. Hibbert did some solid clean up work on the glass in the second half and finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds. But when we look for little things, the big fella left a few plays on the court.
- Lance Stephenson had arguably his worst effort of the season. After playing heavy minutes in Los Angeles, Lance was uncharacteristically quiet right up until he fouled out in the fourth quarter, when he threw a bit of a fit and was lucky to avoid a technical. Stephenson finished with two points and two assists while turning the ball over three times and logging six fouls. Young fella is in the middle of a grind and will have to learn how to play tired.
- Stephenson wasn't the only one feeling the fatigue. David West appeared absolutely worn out late in the third quarter with those vet legs battling another tough cover at power forward in LMA. Hibbert and PG also spent time with their hands on their knees down the stretch.
- George HIll had a solid start to the game and finished with 11 assists, but he too caught far too much iron, only making one of eight shots from the field.
- So the Pacers starters were outplayed with the defense progressively giving up more points as the game went on. But in a total flip of fortunes, the reserve unit was at least able to keep the Pacers close and actually maintain a lead in the second quarter. Both Luis Scola and C.J. Watson finished with 10 points, but that unit was also on the floor when things went bad for good to begin the fourth quarter. The Pacers were left chasing the lead the rest of the game and despite the heroic effort from Paul George, it wasn't enough to overcome the team breakdowns.
- Some nights you just don't have it and against the Blazers the Pacers had to be much more on point to win. So now the Pacers have a day to catch their breath before heading to Utah to face the Jazz.