After losing to Miami last night, Roy Hibbert described the game against Cleveland as a must win. Unfortunately the Pacers showed nothing resembling a sense of urgency to win until there was about eight minutes left in the game. But despite Cleveland giving the Pacers a few golden opportunities to sneak back into position to win the game, the Pacers couldn't take advantage, coming up empty with momentum primed and ready to swing their way.
But this game was lost early when the Cavs were able to find shots when and where they wanted, scoring 32 first quarter points. The Pacers succeeded earlier in the year with a defensive effort that made teams uncomfortable. Tonight the Cavs may as well have been wearing a robe and slippers for some of their open looks because the Pacers left them alone in their comfort zone.
Kyrie Irving led the Cleveland attack with 22 points and five assists, making three of five three-point attempts. The Cavs made 10 three-pointers for the game including four in the third quarter to push the Pacers back every time they seemed to be gaining a little traction to cut the lead to single digits.
Meanwhile at the offensive end, the Pacers played like junk. Danny Granger missed the game with a sprained ankle and then Paul George missed the bulk of the game with foul trouble, playing less than four minutes in the first half. That left David West who couldn't hit a shot and Roy Hibbert who couldn't get enough good touches in the post.
So it is no surprise that Darren Collison led the Pacers with 18 points because he had to try to get something going. The most damning stat in the first half was the two assists the Pacers had at the break on a measly 14 field goals.
As bad as that first half was, again, Cleveland did their part to let the Pacers back in the game, but too many little things, like missing nine free throws for the game and giving up key rebounds, kept the Pacers from mounting a game-altering run. Paul George put together a stretch in the fourth quarter of his most aggressive play to date. It was obvious that PG's effort was fueled by pure frustration sprinkled with a little desperation, a style of play that would've been welcomed from the opening tip by all five blue shirts, but his effort came up short with a couple of missed three-pointers.
The Pacers have nowhere else to look for answer but in the mirror. George Hill reportedly went through a good workout before the game but his return date remains unknown. Granger tried to give it a go tonight so he may be able to return tomorrow night along with Jeff Foster.
The Pacers host the New Jersey Nets on Thursday night which should bring out their best effort to end this losing streak. But that depends on their comfort level with the losing.
That's all I can muster up for this mess. Feel free to add your own thoughts and observations in the comments.