The Indiana Pacers dropped their second straight, allowing the little things to be their undoing against the Washington Wizards. Indiana outshot the Wizards, but superior three point shooting and offensive rebounding made up the slim difference on the scoreboard.
Indiana has long struggled this season with those two issues, making it a fitting dagger for the team to fall on. The Pacers rank in the bottom five in the league in both three pointers per game and offensive rebounds allowed, providing no respite for those issues in tonight’s loss.
The Pacers shot just 4-21 from three point range; Paul George made up the bulk of that contribution with a pair in an otherwise solid 12-23 shooting night, scoring 31 points. C.J. Miles, the team’s lone shooter, was 1-5 from three point range in 21 minutes, his lone basket coming in the game’s closing seconds with the game already out of reach. Washington meanwhile, hit 10 as a team, including two in the game’s final five minutes.
On the other side of the floor, Marcin Gortat contributed a 14 point, 16 rebound night, with eight offensive rebounds, equaling Indiana’s total on the night as Washington pulled in 14 offensive boards. The Wizards finished with a 19-15 edge in second chance points, but eight of those points came in the game’s closing minutes, including a backbreaking three from Bradley Beal.
Washington had three 20-point scorers with John Wall and Morris scoring 26 apiece, but no one really stepped up for the Pacers in a way to match George’s output. Myles Turner struggled all night with Gortat and never found a rhythm while Jeff Teague missed shots around the rim he normally makes. Even a 10 point, three offensive rebound night from Lavoy Allen wasn’t enough to give Indiana a discernible edge.
This note doesn’t intend to exclude a tremendous bench effort however, as the Pacers outscored Washington 40-18 off the bench. The Pacers were led by an unconscious Kevin Seraphin, who scored a season high 16 points on 8-10 shooting. Al Jefferson and Monta Ellis both flirted with double doubles on the night, with Jefferson scoring six and pulling in 10 rebound sand Ellis scoring eight and dishing eight assists.
Even with a strong bench effort, they were equal opportunity players in struggling to close quarters. The Pacers were in solid position in both the second and third quarters, but were dreadful in closing each quarter. In the final minute alone, the Wizards outscored Indiana 8-2 in the second and third, while committing three turnovers. The inability to close strong erased a potential halftime lead and took a one-point deficit to five in the third.
Where Indiana’s loss to Cleveland was about the inability of the Pacers to match wits with a championship caliber team locked in, tonight’s loss had as much to do with their own team flaws. That creates its own sense of uneasiness moving forward, especially if the front office can’t make the appropriate moves to quell at least one of Indiana’s glaring issues before the trade deadline.
In the meantime, the Pacers will have a quick turnaround, facing the Milwaukee Bucks at home on the second night of a back-to-back. The Pacers have performed better against teams they’re above in the standings, which makes tomorrow’s game important in limiting their current losing streak to two.