In similar fashion to their loss to Chicago, the Indiana Pacers were granted favor from the Washington Wizards to stay in a game they did very little to stay alive. A positive start and a few positive stretches weren’t enough however for Indiana to keep pace with a Wizards team that dominated the glass, coming up with 15 offensive rebounds and outrebounding the Pacers by 20.
The game was ultimately decided in the final four minutes of the second quarter when Washington used a 19-6 run to take a one point deficit to a 12-point lead. The Pacers saw their offense tank when Paul George picked up his third foul in the second quarter, allowing the Wizards to push the game in their favor.
Indiana pushed back in the second half, but each time they drew close, the Pacers ran into their own wall with empty possessions after empty possessions, bailing the Wizards out of their most turnover prone stretches. This included misses on easy layups and a growing frustration on fouls that weren’t called, leading Indiana to get outshot 37-27 from the free throw line (though with Washington’s misses, Indiana ended up only -3).
Paul George led the way for the Pacers with a solid 34 point outing, hitting six threes and going 8-8 from the line. But in having to contend with a near-triple-double John Wall (34 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists), his play wasn’t enough to overcome struggles on defense (Washington shot 48% on the night) and he wasn’t given the same support (all five Wizards starters reached double figures, including 22 from Otto Porter).
Jeff Teague, in between olé defense against Wall, scored a quiet 19 points and had 11 assists while Myles Turner had 15 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks, but struggled in his matchups with Marcin Gortat, who had 13 points and 16 rebounds. Turner and Thaddeus Young combined for eight of Indiana’s 13 turnovers, though Young was able to offset the turnovers with six steals.
C.J. Miles was the only double figure bench scorer in the game, coming on in the second half to score 15 points. Glenn Robinson III meanwhile was the only starter in the game to not reach double figures, scoring just two on 1-4 shooting. Robinson doesn’t need to be an offensive threat in the starting lineup, but he needs to make the shots he’s given.
In Monta Ellis’s absence, Robinson has shot just 26% in the starting role and just 3-16 from three point range. An inability to hit the open shot (or any shot, as evidenced by him whiffing a layup) takes away any positives he can bring doing the “little things.” There’s been nothing from Robinson’s play to suggest he should remain in the starting lineup as Ellis returned for 18 rust-filled minutes.
A return of Ellis to the starting lineup isn’t the boost the team needs, but there’s been nothing in his time away to suggest he’s the problem Indiana has to overcome. Now at 15-18 and losers of four straight, the Pacers are far from their days of hovering around .500 hoping for things to come together; they’re a 10th place team in a mediocre Eastern Conference and currently hold no discernible head-to-head advantage against any team they’re looking up at.
There’s nothing the Pacers are right now other than a bad team. Fortunately for them, there’s still plenty of time in the season to figure things out and they’ll get to do so against a significantly easier schedule than they’ve faced. Unfortunately, easy scheduling hasn’t worked for Indiana this season.
The Pacers will play their last game of 2016, wrapping up their season series against the Chicago Bulls on Friday. The game will be an early start at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, tipping at 4 p.m. Eastern.