Things went from bad to worse for the Indiana Pacers on the second night of a back-to-back. After blowing a fourth quarter lead against the Brooklyn Nets, the Pacers followed it up with four more quarters of terrible play, resulting in a blowout loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Indiana has struggled mightily with the second unit in the first half, but have been able to tread water thanks to quick starts from the starters. But tonight, the Pacers saw first hand what happens if they can't build a double figure lead, and it wasn't pretty; the Pacers were outscored 38-21 in the second quarter. From that point, Indiana couldn't make much room and the game effectively wrapped up when Paul George picked up four third quarter fouls to put a cap on his night.
George and Myles Turner led the way with 20 points each, both players shooting 8-12 from the floor. Turner went 4-5 from the free throw line and George went 4-5 from three point range, both lines leading the Pacers by a comfortable stretch. Indiana had just five first half scorers; Thaddeus Young was the only other starter to reach double figures, scoring 10.
It was the one first half free throw that took away any easy scoring opportunities for guys that were struggling, while the Bulls hovered around 58% shooting for the entire night, going a cool 19-21 from the line. The defense was especially bad, not only for the ease in which Chicago was scoring, but a lack of defensive transition (a staggering 30-14 Chicago advantage) and interior defense (allowing 54 points in the paint).
Indiana continues to be plagued by backcourt issues. Rodney Stuckey missed tonight's game with his hamstring strain, but as well documented as the struggles of the second unit has been (Joe Young is not a point guard), both Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis were no-shows outside of assists. They combined for 13 assists (Teague with eight), but were 1-13 from the floor for two points (Teague 0-7).
Things were easier for guys in garbage time with Indiana opening up offensively as Glenn Robinson III and Young each settled into good shooting nights that can hopefully translate to better success in games that are actually competitive in an effort to prevent their second quarter collapses. Georges Niang got extended minutes for the first time, scoring four points with a pair of rebounds two turnovers and Kevin Seraphin appeared competent around the rim.
Indiana losing tonight isn't a surprise given the circumstances of playing on their second night of a back-to-back and the struggles they've had in these games, but it makes last night's loss even more frustrating because a loss (blowout or otherwise) was well within reason. Indiana will return to the friendly confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse in hopes of getting back in the win column when they face the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.