A positive first quarter showing for the Indiana Pacers turned sour against the Dallas Mavericks, as the Pacers sans Victor Oladipo dropped their second straight game in a back-to-back situation at home. Indiana led 29-22 after one, but the inability to build on a seven point lead, not only there, but throughout the game left the door open for the Mavs to keep the heat on the Pacers.
Cold spells weren’t only affecting the weather outdoors, but the Indiana play inside as well. A 6-0 run for the Mavericks to start the second quarter took away their solid first quarter lead, but slow starts in the third quarter and in crunch time dropped the Pacers below 50% shooting for the game, while Dallas took advantage.
That struggle to score was compounded by turnover issues as well. The Pacers had 16 turnovers, allowing the Mavericks to score 18 off of them, including a 15-3 advantage in fast break points. While Cory Joseph reached double figures with 10 points and Joe Young and Domantas Sabonis each scored six, the Pacers bench missed the play of Lance Stephenson to really push the tempo in the second unit.
Stephenson was a big part of Indiana’s starting unit in the opening quarter, finishing with a team high 16 points and 15 rebounds, but despite a strong effort in fighting for the ball, he was largely ineffective in improving the play of everyone around him after the first quarter. Stephenson had all five of his assists in the first quarter, and slowly tallied five turnovers, including a costly one with 25 seconds and the Pacers down one.
The Pacers trailed by three after the Dennis Smith Jr. breakaway dunk, but Indiana had another shot, but sealed their loss with misses from Bojan Bogdanovic and Darren Collison (following an impressive Stephenson offensive rebound). Both Collison and Bogdanovic had a pair of threes, with Collison scoring 16 and Bogdanovic 11.
The absence of Oladipo was felt not only late, but in terms of reliable scoring. All five Pacers reached double figures, but Stephenson, Collison, and Myles Turner capped out at 16 points. No one really took up the mantle to lead the Pacers offensively either, with Collison and Bogdanovic’s 13 field goal attempts leading the way (with both finishing below 50% shooting).
Despite all of that, the Pacers were in a good position to win the game with five minutes remaining up 90-84, but the Mavericks ran off a 10-0 run changed the complexion of the game. Indiana missed seven straight shots in this stretch. They tied the game up thanks in large part to Stephenson, but couldn’t close the game down the stretch.
This loss proved a difficult one precisely because they were unable to secure a victory they had within their grasp. As was the case last night, the Pacers missed Oladipo’s contributions in a big way. They continue to struggle finding reliable offensive efforts outside of him, part of which falls on Turner, who is the first guy the Pacers should look towards to pick up his scoring on nights like this.
But Turner also only attempted 12 shots (with no assists), which puts some accountability on guys to get him more involved. That said, whereas many bigs can involve themselves in the offense by pulling in offensive boards, Turner had just one offensive rebound (which became a turnover).
The Pacers currently have Oladipo as day-to-day with a sore right knee, which doesn’t clear his availability for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls in Chicago. Indiana is 2-0 against the Bulls this season, but since compiling a couple of early season blowout wins, the Bulls have turned their season around with a seven game winning streak, making them a far more dangerous and capable team than the Pacers are familiar with.