According to basketball-reference.com, 268 teams since 1985-86 have shot under 31% for a game. Unsurprisingly, the record of those teams shooting so poorly was an abysmal 13-255. So given that the Charlotte Hornets found their way into the win column, just the 14th team to do so in the last 30 years, should give all the information needed to know about how the Indiana Pacers played in their 80-71 overtime loss to the Hornets.
The game was hardly a barnburner at any point in the night. David West had 14 second quarter points to will Indiana to a 40-37 halftime advantage, but neither team showed much interest in putting points on the board in the third quarter. When Indiana went ahead 51-45 with 4:39 left in the third, they watched helplessly as Charlotte scored the final five points of the quarter.
Charlotte won the third 13-11, running off a glacier of a 9-0 run to go up 54-51 early in the fourth before Indiana ended their seven minute scoring drought, where they missed nine consecutive shots and had five turnovers. The Pacers eventually got enough together offensively to reclaim their six point lead up 61-55, but could never push the lead beyond that despite Charlotte going on a seven and a half minute field goal drought, putting up just one point in that period.
Gerald Henderson scored six points late to trim the lead to one, when Marvin Williams put in a big three pointer to put Charlotte up two. Rodney Stuckey responded with a pair of free throws, forcing overtime at 68-68. At that point, everything ran out for Indiana, who had a seven and a half minute field goal drought of their own, getting shut out in OT until 29 seconds remaining in the game.
Charlotte would outscore Indiana 12-3 in the overtime period, essentially cruising towards an 80-71 victory in a game both teams should be forced to take on a loss (Indiana two for actually losing it). The struggles of the Pacers have been evident late in games, and tonight was no different: the Pacers simply have no one who can step up and close out games.
The minor mistakes Indiana makes throughout games certainly doesn't help. The Pacers had 20 turnovers on the night, leading to 17 points for Charlotte, who were helped by the turnovers in getting 17 more field goal attempts. Charlotte also rebounded the ball much better. The Pacers only lost the rebounding battle by two, but were smacked on the offensive glass, surrendering 14 to the Hornets. And once again finding themselves on the wrong side of the free throw differential didn't help, getting outscored 16-9 at the line, the Pacers shooting a relatively poor 9-13.
David West carried the load with 19 points, but a majority of those came early, and he split a crucial trip to the free throw line late that held the door open for Charlotte to keep Indiana from claiming a win in regulation. Roy Hibbert also played well 12 points, 14 rebounds, and six blocks, but didn't have much say after putting the Pacers' final field goal in regulation.
Even Donald Sloan, who played comparatively well in regulation with 13 points, stunk it up in overtime, spelling C.J. Watson, who stunk it up for a more or less the entire game (though did put in Indiana's only overtime points). Having no late game reliability, not from 2-13 from C.J. Miles to Solomon Hill not even playing offense, makes things that much more difficult for Frank Vogel, who has his team in position late in games every night.
Despite Indiana's losing streak climbing to four games tonight, the Pacers have had opportunities to win all four games, taking out a minor caveat for Mo Williams's lord have mercy game. And at 15-27, the Pacers fall a game and a half behind both Charlotte and Detroit, something that looks to be just the beginning of Indiana looking up at both teams.
Indiana's five game road trip gets off to a bad start, one that stands to get worse before it gets better as Indiana heads to Texas to face the Houston Rockets on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The game will tip early, 5:30 p.m. Eastern, facing a Rockets team that has been good at home at 15-4.
In the meantime, however, there's still reason to cheer for the city of Indianapolis, as they'll set themselves up to cheer for the Colts tomorrow evening as they face the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. So while the Pacers figure out how to put themselves back in the win column, good luck to the Colts in continuing to stay there, in hopes they can bring another AFC Championship to Indianapolis.