If I told you that Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for just 33 points - and that the Trail Blazers starting unit combined for just 49 points as a whole - you would probably think the Pacers won the game. If I added that Portland had 10 more turnovers than the Pacers, two technical fouls, and the game was played in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, you would probably think the Pacers won by, well, a lot.
One problem was that Portland’s bench had 54 points. The Pacers bench? Just 15.
The normal starting five for the Blue & Gold got off to a strong start defensively as they limited the Trail Blazers to just 23 first quarter points. Considering Portland’s high scoring offense and backcourt duo of Lillard and McCollum, Pacers fans had a reason to be happy. But that was the only reason. Offensively, the Pacers settled for mid-range jumpers and shot just 7-for-26 (26.9%) through the first quarter. Another problem - much more on that later.
Nik Stauskas and Indiana native Caleb Swanigan got it going off the bench for the Blazers. They combined for 17 points at the half and helped stretch Portland’s lead to 13 points early in the second quarter.
When Nate McMillan put the starters back into the game, they switched the momentum and took it to the Blazers. Including an 11 - 0 run sparked by the Pacers defense, Indiana ended the half on a 25 - 8 run.
WE'VE GOT A TIE GAMEEEE! Turner with the block, Vic with the ridiculous pass, Bogey puts the icing on the cake with a perfect 3-pointer.— FOX Sports Indiana (@FSIndiana) October 30, 2018
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That was one of Myles Turner’s three blocks in the half, and it led to an open 3-pointer for Bojan Bogdanovic in transition. Defensively, the Pacers held Lillard to just two points at the half, which came on Portland’s last possession in the second quarter with 1.7 seconds left. Thad Young led the way offensively for the Pacers with 13 points midway through the game, and Indiana led 49 - 45.
Not much went Indiana’s way after the halftime buzzer. Despite an 8-point lead early in the second half, the Pacers struggled to move the ball and, more importantly, make shots. After being tied at 63 with 4:24 left in the third, the Blazers buckled down defensively and forced the Pacers to miss shots.
See the problem?
Zach Collins (17 points) and Evan Turner (13 points) got it going for Portland late in the third and early into the fourth quarter. With just under five minutes to play, the Pacers saw themselves down double digits and were unable to - do I need to say it?
Final score: 103 - 93.
At 41.1% from the floor tonight, the Pacers posted their second worst shooting performance of the season (39.6% at Minnesota). However, they likely would have won the game had they connected closer to their average rate (51.7%).
The problem was the Pacers did not have enough shooting tonight, and the Blazers had just enough.
The Pacers play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday at 8:00 pm ET.