The Indiana Pacers suffered their first heartbreaking loss of the season as a late game comeback against the Golden State Warriors fell short thanks to a game winning turnaround by Klay Thompson with 0.6 seconds left. With Thompson drilling the game winner and Paul George's subsequent on line three point attempt going a hair long, it in a way summed up the loss for the Pacers, who not only allowed Thompson to get off in the fourth quarter for 16 points, but saw their own three point shooting a nightmarish 3-16 against a Golden State team that hit 10.
Indiana would never see a lead larger than the one they held at 5-1, spending most of the night playing from behind. Indiana seemed focused early on trying to match offensively with the Warriors, who were better equipped to match the Pacers defensively. The Pacers managed to keep Golden State in their sights even when the Warriors got out in transition and torched Indiana for easy layups. Indiana would close the half on a 4-0 run to trim the Golden State lead to six at 48-42.
The success the Pacers had to close out the half was carried over into the third quarter, with Indiana using an 8-3 run to make it a 51-50 game for the Warriors. After a Stephen Curry three, the Pacers used a 6-0 run to take their first lead of the second half at 56-54. Despite being able to keep the Warriors down two, Indiana was never able to push the lead to multiple possessions with a George Hill and one giving Indiana a 63-62 lead.
A pair of back to back threes by Golden State capped an 8-0 run on their end to suddenly turn the game on its head at 70-63. David West had six to close the quarter as he helped the Pacers trim the lead to three points heading into the final period. Once in the fourth quarter, Klay Thompson opened the game up for the Warriors, scoring nine straight Golden State points to put them up 84-74.
Thompson's onslaught didn't stop there. He scored five more, coupled with a Harrison Barnes three pointer, that put Golden State in control 92-79 with 6:22 left in the game. Paul George would hit a three to cut the lead to 10, before Barnes pushed the lead back to 12 with a layup. With the game at 94-82, the Pacers finally found their defensive touch, running off 12 straight points to tie the game up at 94-94.
Indiana's inability to come up with 50/50 balls hurt them on the ensuing possession when David Lee scored two off an offensive rebound. George would head to the line to tie the game with 1:06 remaining. After forcing Curry's third turnover of the fourth quarter, the Pacers set up for a long jumper by George, who missed, giving the Warriors the ball and a final shot opportunity that Thompson would use to score over George Hill. With George's game winning miss, the Pacers fell 98-96, snapping their five game winning streak and dropping their fourth home game of the year.
Paul George had 26 for the Pacers as part of a 26 & 12 rebound double double, playing with a purpose in the first quarter, scoring 14 points in the opening quarter. George's shooting night wouldn't recover, with him finishing 8-23 from the floor. George did play a key role in Indiana's comeback. With Stephen Curry's return to action in the fourth quarter, George took Curry completely out of the game, holding him scoreless in the final quarter and forcing Curry into three fourth quarter turnovers.
George did have nine in the quarter, but after hitting two of his three three pointers on the night in the first five minutes of the game, Indiana collectively went 1-14 from three point range, which played a vital role in Indiana's loss, especially with the Warriors stepping into 10-20 from beyond the arc. George Hill, Lance Stephenson, and C.J. Watson were a combined 0-8 from three point range, leaving out some good looks.
Stephenson played exceptionally well in the second quarter, but was largely invisible for much of the rest of the game. He had 10 of his 12 points in the second quarter. Hill had a couple of big three point plays as part of his eight points (and a bank three pointer foiled by a timeout). Watson on the other hand embodied a really poor bench showing with one point, a technical free throw, in 13 minutes.
The bench had 11 points on the night, led by a semi-effective Luis Scola, who scored eight on 4-7 shooting. Evan Turner on the other hand was a dreadful 0-5 from the floor, calling his own number of poor shots and helping Thompson open up in the fourth quarter with his defensive abilities. The silver lining that Danny Granger probably wouldn't have offered much better sure isn't quite too comforting when watching Turner's complete lack of impact in tonight's loss, but whether the bench will be able to find some sort of consistency remains the single elusive problem for the Pacers moving forward.
David West, on the other hand, had a game high 27 points on 10-17 shooting, coming through much as he did against Utah in a way the team needed. West had Indiana's final six points of the third quarter to turn a negative quarter into Indiana's first 12 minute victory of the night. It was a shame to see West's effort go to waste, especially when his teammates were unable to find him for a go-to look in the game's final two minutes.
The only real consolation for tonight's loss is that Miami saw their own fourth quarter comeback bid fall short as well in Houston, leaving the Pacers two games up on the Heat. Indiana will have a quick turnaround, facing the Charlotte Bobcats tomorrow night in Charlotte. Indiana falls to 46-14, logging their fourth loss at home this season, and will look to avoid just their second two game skid tomorrow night, despite a less than stellar record in the second night of back-to-backs. Charlotte is facing their own issues, having allowed their second 60-point scorer this season, making tomorrow night a game where both teams should play some of their most furious basketball.