The Indiana Pacers played their penultimate preseason game with a shortened rotation, one that looked good in the first quarter and fell apart as the game progressed. Indiana shot over 50% in the first quarter, led by 6-8 from Paul George, who had 15 points, leading Indiana to a 34-24 first quarter lead.
But the Pacers' second unit struggled, allowing Chicago back in the game, and the starters did little to alleviate the situation when they returned as Indiana shot 3-24 in the second quarter, scoring just 11 points. Things didn't improve much for the Pacers offensively, as they fell behind Chicago by as many as 16 in the fourth, sealing their second loss in preseason play.
The Pacers shot just 38% on the night while seeing defensive struggles in matchups against Nikola Mirotic and Aaron Brooks. The second unit carried a bulk of the struggles, with the six man bench scoring just 21, shy of Brooks's 22 on the night. The lack of scoring was easily linked to the lack of shooting, C.J. Miles, Rodney Stuckey, and Joe Young posting a woeful 3-18 shooting.
While the trio won't struggle every night, getting some kind of consistency, at least in the sense of one of them consistently being on point could be a huge sticking point throughout the season, especially with Chase Budinger and Solomon Hill posting zero point nights. We've seen what Miles and Stuckey in particular can for the Pacers in a positive sense, but we also saw their negative aspects on full display in this game.
The starters did play relatively well with four reaching double figures, led by Paul George with 26 points and 13 rebounds. George had 15 in the first quarter, but struggled with shooting when he returned to the game in the second quarter. He minimized a lackluster second half shooting with trips to the line, shooting 6-7 on free throws.
There's no question George looks primed for the regular season, but it was nice to see him get some help from Monta Ellis tonight, who scored 14 points on 6-11 shooting. Ellis looked good on offense and was incredibly opportunistic on defense with a pair of steals. George Hill also reached double figures with 11, shooting poorly at 4-12, but getting some nice aggressive plays at the rim with eight rebounds on the night.
Ian Mahinmi again looked good on the offensive end, scoring 14 points on 6-9 shooting while sending away four blocked shots. Lavoy Allen saw starting minutes and while he came up with 10 boards, struggled against Mirotic's three point shooting. Shayne Whittington was Indiana's best player off the bench, scoring nine points on 3-5 shooting.
Indiana will wrap up preseason play on Thursday when they host the Charlotte Hornets. The preseason has mostly been successful for Indiana, but there are still underlying issues that aren't going to be easily fixed as the regular season opener draws closer. But even a perfect preseason wasn't going to mean a smooth transition into what Indiana ultimately plans to be with their new system.