The frustrating fourth-quarter fade against Portland, should have the Pacers attention to detail dialed in for their next two games against the Knicks and Bulls — two winnable games if looking just on paper. Plus, the 8 p.m. ET start from Madison Square Garden is on ESPN which gives the Pacers a chance to shine with a national spotlight on them.
Free throw woes have been a source of consternation with the Pacers this year. They shot 13-20 against Portland and as J. Michael chronicled today, the Pacers are last in the Eastern Conference (28th in the league) in free throw percentage and dead last in the league in free throw attempts per game.
Myles Turner took the brunt of the blame for missed opportunities at the line, going 0-4 against the Blazers including missing a pair at a key part of the game. Midway through the third quarter, the Pacers had battled back from an earlier 13-point deficit and had built a seven-point lead. But, as we know, the Blazers would battle back.
Jusuf Nukic made the first three-pointer of his career (clearly not a good sign when a sixth-year pro hits you for three, he’s now 1-22 for his career) to cut the lead to four. But Myles Turner came back and battled for a strong offensive rebound and drew a foul in the process to help the Pacers maintain momentum. Unfortunately, he was unable to cash in and missed both free throws. Big Mo shifted sides.
The Blazers continued to make an 11-2 run to take the lead back and would never trail in the game, again.
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