The Indiana Pacers were a step slow against the Portland Trail Blazers, who had a scorching night from behind the arc to defeat the Pacers. Indiana looked and played like they were on the second night of a back-to-back, and the defensive success they've had throughout the early stretch of the season was nowhere to be found against Portland.
The Blazers had 15 offensive rebounds, including three crucial offensive boards in the fourth that each led to a Portland three pointer. Portland had 18 three pointers, blitzing Indiana all night with a better effort and far superior shooting. The Pacers were led by C.J. Miles, who did shoot exceptionally well, hitting eight three pointers himself as part of his game high 27.
Rodney Stuckey was a big boost to Indiana in the third quarter, as he forced himself to the free throw line, hitting all of eight his attempts for 17 points. But as much of a boost as Stuckey was, the defense was well off-base for Indiana, who allowed 41 points in that third quarter, forcing Stuckey's play to be a leak stopper rather than the spark it had the chance of being.
George Hill also had a good night scoring, putting in 18 and Ian Mahinmi had a 10 point, 11 rebound double double. But Indiana's success may live and die by Paul George, and while the team looked it, George especially looked like he was the one a step slow. George had just 11 points, shooting a dreadful 4-17 from the floor, including 0-9 from three point range.
It didn't hurt Indiana early; Chase Budinger and Jordan Hill each filled in with 10 points off the bench and Indiana led the entire first half, but as the game got more taxing and Portland began to light up the scoreboard, Indiana wasn't getting the performance from George they needed on either end. The Pacers were further hampered when Monta Ellis left the game early with a shoulder injury.
Indiana has long struggled in Portland, and the scheduling never seems to favor the Pacers when they make the trip to the Moda Center, but it was a disappointing effort even in a back-to-back to see Indiana's defense collapse the way it did tonight. Portland had a much bigger want to about their game tonight, and got it from Damian Lillard (26 points) and C.J. McCollum (21) as expected. They also found success with Allen Crabbe, who hit four three pointers as part of his 18.
While it won't be a perfect trip, the Pacers will wrap up their West Coast roadie on Saturday when they face the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City. Indiana is so far 2-0 in rematch games this season, and will need to hope tonight's game was more of an outlier than a potential trend.