Injuries continue to be a one step forward, two steps back ordeal for the Indiana Pacers, who after receiving some positive news regarding C.J. Miles, suffered two more injuries in tonight's blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns, with Roy Hibbert exited halfway into the first quarter with a sprained left ankle. Hibbert would return, but didn't look capable of playing, leaving in the second quarter for the duration of the game. Rodney Stuckey also suffered a sprained left wrist in the fourth quarter falling over a cameraman.
Things didn't fare much better on the court for the Pacers, who despite holding their own in the first quarter, quickly fell in a hole against the Suns, one they were unable to dig themselves out of. Indiana was helpless to combat an ever growing deficit, with poor offensive execution turning into easy transition buckets for the Suns. The Pacers shot 36.9% for the game, an unacceptable number for a team that needed as much offense possible to keep pace with Phoenix.
Indiana was able to keep pace early in the game due to three point shooting, but despite four in the first quarter, Indiana would sink in just three more the rest of the night. Phoenix also began with four in the opening quarter, but finished up 12-31 on the night, including a 5-9 three point night from Gerald Green. Green exploded off the bench with 18 first half points, scoring 23 for the night and leading Phoenix to a 106-83 victory.
For the Pacers, their noted lack of speed really exposes itself in these types of games, but their own self inflicted wounds on offense does nothing but increase the blood loss. Check out Indiana's floor spacing from C. Cooper:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pacers?src=hash">#Pacers</a> floor spacing is not helping their cause on O here in the 3Q. <a href="http://t.co/9UHAqjviL8">pic.twitter.com/9UHAqjviL8</a></p>— C. Cooper (@C2_Cooper) <a href="https://twitter.com/C2_Cooper/status/536331169705758720">November 23, 2014</a></blockquote>
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If the Pacers weren't crowding the paint on offense, they were crowding one side of the floor. The lack of spacing helped Phoenix take away easy inside baskets with quick double teams, which resulted in bad shots, which led to fast break buckets for the Suns, who had no trouble cutting off potential Indiana runs at only 4-5 points to maintain a 9-11 point advantage.
The bad floor spacing and shot selection played a major role in Indiana's sub 40% shooting, but with Luis Scola (0-6, one point) and A.J. Price (2-10, six points) crashing down to earth after their recent success, much of Indiana's potential offense went with it. The Pacers were led by Rodney Stuckey, who had 14 points in under 20 minutes. Stuckey had six rebounds and eight free throw attempts.
Solomon Hill had some solid stretches in tonight's game, coming up with big hustle plays on offense as part of his 13 point, six rebound, and four assist night. Though there's certainly a major deficiency in overall talent, Hill certainly looks capable of playing a key role on this team when the talent does return, whenever that may be.
Ian Mahinmi filled in well for Hibbert, coming up with his first double double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Mahinmi looked sharp on offense, going 5-8 and pulling in a team high four offensive boards. Lavoy Allen also played well up front with Scola having one point (though he did work hard on the boards, coming up with 10), piecing together another solid eight point, seven rebound effort.
Chris Copeland hit a pair of threes to open tonight's game, but made little impact outside of that with some characteristically poor offensive decisions. Shayne Whittington played well in garbage time, putting in seven points on 3-3 shooting, including a big put back dunk, helping Indiana on a late 10-0 run.
On the bright side for Indiana's injuries, Stuckey's X-ray on his wrist came out negative and Hibbert is currently listed as "day-to-day," but it's still two more injuries the Pacers are sick of dealing with. The Pacers will head on the road for six of their next seven, starting with a Texas two step against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night.