The Indiana Pacers suffered a familiar fourth quarter collapse against the Brooklyn Nets, turning a seven point lead into a nine-point loss. The frustration of the fourth quarter, in which the Pacers shot poorly and were outscored 31-15 was something the Pacers had hoped they could've left in the past, but the Nets imposed their will in the fourth and the Pacers responded with bricks instead of buckets.
Paul George gave brief life in the quarter, hitting the first two field goals of the quarter at about the halfway mark of the quarter, but a pair of critical threes by Sean Kilpatrick was enough to do Indiana in late. George finished the night with 22 points, but was never able to find consistency with his shot, going 8-22 from the floor. Thaddeus Young played with 19 points, eight rebounds, and three steals, but like everyone else, failed to make an impact with the game on the line late.
The fourth quarter erased three pretty good quarters of basketball from the Pacers. Jeremy Lin and Brook Lopez had their way much of the night, especially in the second quarter, but the Pacers were in control of the game with a double figure lead after a Joe Young three in the third. Young having to man the back up point guard duties took depth away from the Pacers when Rodney Stuckey left the game early with a hamstring strain.
Those early minutes for Stuckey came when Jeff Teague picked up a pair of early fouls. Teague had seven assists on the night, but those early two fouls took him out of the game, shooting just 2-13 for four points. And aside from a solid outing from C.J. Miles, scoring 15 points on 6-10 shooting, the bench was just 4-22 from the floor, doing nothing to alleviate an potential struggles from the starters.
Indiana shot under 38%, scoring 94 points in what felt like a Frank Vogel game as opposed to a free-flowing style. The Pacers very rarely felt as if they seriously pushed the tempo, seeming content to play a slower pace with the Nets that favored Lopez and the Nets' three point shooting as the game was constantly mucked up. Of course, the difference between this team and a Vogel team is the lack of discipline on defense.
Trevor Booker had 10 points, but they were all very loud points, cutting through the Pacers defense for easy buckets, while Lopez just feasted on whatever player Nate McMillan tried to put on him. That included Myles Turner, who got a nice lesson while simultaneously having some good stretches halted by the Nets all together. Turner had 13 points and 11 rebounds, but wasn't involved at all in the fourth quarter as there was no easy way for Indiana to get a shot, especially with Al Jefferson having a big off night.
As exciting as the overtime win over Dallas was, a poor fourth quarter is what put Indiana into that overtime to begin with. In both games, Indiana has gotten outscored 61-36 in the fourth quarter, taking away the positive things the Pacers had built across the first three quarters in both games. Letting one essentially get away this early in this season is frustrating, but it shows the progress Indiana needs to make, especially without a reliable defense.
Indiana will have a quick turnaround as they face their first back-to-back of the season against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. The city may be preoccupied with the World Series, but unfortunately for the Pacers that won't have much effect on the Bulls themselves.