A disastrous second quarter set up the Indiana Pacers for a frustrating loss to the Boston Celtics, sending them back under .500 heading into their Christmas break. The Pacers ended the first quarter on an 11-0 run, but went ice cold, leading to a 17-0 Celtics run to start the second, losing the quarter 29-9.
Things didn’t improve much early in the third, but they eventually picked up their scoring pace with C.J. Miles drawing them to within five in the fourth quarter, but they were unable to get the stops and rebounds necessary to finish off their comebacks.
Despite Miles’s big fourth quarter, where he scored all 19 of his points off the bench, it was the bench’s play in the first half that led to their scoreless run in the second quarter, including Miles. The bench only scored 25 on the night, meaning there was minimal contributions beyond Miles’s fourth quarter explosion.
The Pacers came as close as three in the closing seconds, making the lack of bench contributions all the more frustrating. Simply a bucket or two could’ve gone a long way in helping the Pacers late in tonight’s game, but the bench play doesn’t take away from underwhelming performance from a number of starters as well.
Paul George came ready to play, scoring 11 points in the first quarter on 2-3 shooting, getting to the line seven times. He would go on to break the 17-0 run, but had only six second half points, all coming in the fourth. George stayed active with eight rebounds, five assists, and a pair of steals, but he led the team with five turnovers and shot just 2-8 in the second half, failing to hit a three for the second straight game.
Three point shooting was an issue for the Pacers early. Boston gained an advantage by letting it fly in the first half, holding a 7-1 edge in makes after the first half. The Pacers would close the gap, but it proved too little too late with the damage already done early. The Pacers got all seven of their three pointers from three players; Miles, Thaddeus Young, and Jeff Teague.
Teague was the leader for the Pacers tonight, scoring a season high 31 on 9-15 shooting, guiding the Pacers back with a pair of threes and eight assists. Teague also worked his way to the line to shoot 11-11, leading all players. Young hit a trio of threes, coming up with a 15 point, 12 rebound double double.
Indiana needs to find answers not only off the bench, but should be looking for answers at the starting two spot. Glenn Robinson III was impressive playing a larger role in the absence of George, but Robinson has been far less reliable in spelling the absent Monta Ellis, who will still be out for the foreseeable future.
Robinson has done well on hustle plays; he had six rebounds and a steal tonight, but offered up nothing offensively, shooting just 1-9 from the floor, missing open looks from three point range as the Pacers needed buckets to complete their comeback. The Pacers will be looking for a boost as Rodney Stuckey nears return, but there’s no longer an addition by subtraction without Ellis; they simply need an upgrade to buck their on/off performances.
George did turn his ankle in the fourth quarter tonight. He didn’t appear to be hobbled in the rest of the game, but it may be worth keeping an eye, though the four day rest should be beneficial to that as the Pacers will be off until Monday, when they travel to Chicago to face the Bulls for the third time this season.