Despite an expected outcome, the Indiana Pacers played tough, for a while anyway, en route to a 117-102 loss against the Golden State Warriors. Indiana played well in the first quarter despite losing Roy Hibbert to a sprained ankle five minutes into the game. Hibbert would not return for the remainder of the night, which is a shame given he was setting the tone for a positive night with his play early.
Though even without Hibbert, the Pacers closed the first quarter strong, outscoring Golden State by eight to finish the quarter, leading 28-23. Solomon Hill had 10 of his team high 21 points in the first quarter, getting help from David West who had six of his 16. Both players proved the best for the Pacers tonight. Hill was 8-15 on the night, with West shooting 6-11, coming up with seven boards and six assists.
Indiana shot well in the first half, and thanks to big play from Luis Scola, pushed Indiana ahead by 11 points at 42-31 halfway through the second quarter. Scola cooled off after a huge second, but he scored 12 of his 14 in the quarter, making hustle plays with six boards. Despite the lead, Indiana watched their advantage slowly evaporate over the course of the final six minutes, eventually settling in a 50-50 halftime tie.
Three early turnovers to start the third plagued Indiana as the Warriors jumped all over the Pacers to score the first 10 of the half, as Klay Thompson exploded to carry Golden State into the lead for what would be the remainder of the game. Thompson scored a game high 40 points, including 19 in a 14 minute second half stretch to help separate the Warriors.
Indiana actually fought back in the third, climbing to within a single point, but failures to find stops hurt the Pacers, as too did Thompson's scoring abilities, with back breaking threes to end the third and start the fourth prove to be too much as the Warriors put a stamp in the game in the fourth to wrap up the win for the 28-5 Warriors.
Familiar issues plagued the Pacers. Not only did Indiana find themselves behind the eight ball being -6 in three pointers made, but turnovers and fast break points proved impossible to overcome. Indiana had 17 turnovers, 11 off of steals, leading to 22 Warriors points and a 28-11 fast break point advantage for the Warriors simply continued to play towards their advantage.
Indiana did have some positives. Hill's play was a nice boost for Indiana and another stellar night at the line (22-23) may finally help in finding Indiana some consistency as they split their final true West coast trip 2-2. The injury to Roy Hibbert will be monitored, but with Indiana sitting out Rodney Stuckey tonight as a precaution, on top of the other familiar injuries, it's a seemingly never ending parade for this team.
The Pacers will return home on Friday to play the Boston Celtics. With only 11 games remaining against Western Conference opponents, the 14-23 Pacers, only two games out of the 8th spot, still have ample opportunities to make moves in the Eastern Conference, though the gap between where Indiana is and where the top teams in the league certainly doesn't look like it will change anytime this season.