A late push fell short for the Indiana Pacers, who dug themselves in a massive hole early, dropping them 111-107 against the Milwaukee Bucks. George Hill had a chance for a game tying three in the final seconds, but the ball went in and out to give Milwaukee their win, putting Indiana back in the loss column as the season enters its final 10 games.
The Pacers trailed 34-11 with one minute remaining in the first quarter, surrendering 17 to Ersan Ilyasova, who had a career nigh of 34 points. Indiana spent the entire night making up the 23 point difference, making runs, but always allowing Milwaukee to push the lead back to safe distance. Even still, Indiana continued to chip away, eventually slimming the lead down to just three with a chance to tie. In how things have gone for Indiana lately, it's about all you can ask for.
That is, besides asking for better starts (15 first quarter points), better defense (Milwaukee shot 53.4%), or better free throw shooting (Pacers missed 10 free throws on the night, shooting 33-43 from the line).
Indiana did rebound well, including 13 offensive rebounds, and had a lot of positives going from the three point arc, shooting 14-30, but the failure to get stops throughout the game made their offensive pushes moot. The Pacers entered their six game losing streak with a 20-6 record when they scored 100 points, including 11 straight wins, but despite scoring triple figures in four straight games, Indiana is just 1-3, and have surrendered 100 points in six of seven games.
George Hill still played very well on the offensive end, scoring 24 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter alone to help guide Indiana back into contention, but short David West, Indiana missed even minimal contributions given a bad night from Lavoy Allen, who blanked from the floor on 0-4 shooting. C.J. Miles led Indiana with 26 points, he and Hill combining for 10 of Indiana's 14 three pointers. C.J. Watson also scored 23 points, getting to the line 15 times, hitting 13 attempts.
The Pacers have a lot of soul searching in order, with only 10 games left to get things all sorted out as they continue to look for that final playoff spot. Since the All-Star Break, Indiana is just 1-3 against the six other teams fighting for the 6-8 spots; the worst head-to-head record of any of those seven teams since that same time period.
Suffice to say, Indiana's own struggles aside, if they can't beat the teams directly in front of them, being one of the NBA's final 16 teams is going to be an impossible task. They'll look to find some positives on Sunday night as they host the Dallas Mavericks.