The Indiana Pacers put forth another lackluster showing without Victor Oladipo, while also missing Myles Turner for tonight’s game. They never led against the San Antonio Spurs, as the offensive sputtered far too often while the defense collapsed at the wrong times. The Spurs weren’t quite what Charlotte was on Wednesday, but they didn’t have to be against this Pacers team.
Through the first half, the Pacers routinely found themselves down by double figures, but were also routinely able to fight to pull themselves back to within 3-5 points. Unfortunately, the pushes stopped cold there with San Antonio pushing it back up to double figures. Indiana trailed by nine at halftime, but their undoing came in the third. They fell behind by 20 after starting the quarter just 3-19.
Indiana shot a not-that-awful 46.5% for the game and had 68 points in the paint, but it was their three point shooting that dragged that down. The Spurs did a good job keeping Indiana uncomfortable from deep, holding them to an atrocious 3-24 shooting. No doubt that was their worst of the season, but even with that, they found themselves down just 11 early in the fourth.
At that point, the Pacers suffered a pair of crippling defensive breakdowns, allowing San Antonio to run off an 8-0 run that would again keep Indiana’s hopes at bay. Another potential push late in the fourth was crushed after the Spurs hit three straight after Indiana had cut it to 12.
The Pacers obviously miss Oladipo, but the lack of a defensive anchor was noticeable tonight without Turner. LaMarcus Aldridge in particular had no resistance from Indiana’s bigs, fading away for a big 33-point night. Domantas Sabonis couldn’t keep pace, wrapping up a 19-point, 16-rebound effort in 34 minutes, showing he’s not quite the defensive presence Turner is.
That performance could have been enough, but at his position, Kyle O’Quinn didn’t show much besides fouls, scoring just two, though he was able to find T.J. Leaf for some nifty buckets. The poor play extended around Sabonis, with both Darren Collison and Tyreke Evans pulling no-shows. The two scored just six points on 3-20 shooting, though they did combine for 11 assists.
Indiana was led on the night by Bojan Bogdanovic, who had a team high 21 points on 10-15 shooting. Unfortunately, Bogdanovic was bit by the three point shooting bug as well, going 0-3 himself in a rare no-show from deep. Thaddeus Young reached double figures with 12, trying to pump up the team early in the third, calling out the team’s effort. It didn’t feel like effort was really the issue so much as the pure ineptitude on offense, something Young himself wasn’t able to overcome.
Cory Joseph was the one Pacer who had a positive impact from three point range, hitting 2-3 in a big night off the bench, leading the second unit with 18 points and seven assists. Aaron Holiday once again came in with a spark, scoring five quick points, but from that point, it was brick city for him.
From there, Doug McDermott was neutralized and as mentioned, O’Quinn was hampered with three quick fouls, forcing a heavier minute load on Sabonis. The Pacers did get quality minutes from T.J. Leaf, who scored a season high of 11 on 5-7 shooting, including basically the lone highlight for the Pacers on a putback jam.
As a team, Indiana actually followed their formula for success statistically. They had 31 assists. They had nine steals, won the turnover battle, outscored the Spurs 18-10 in points off turnovers, had a +30 point differential in the paint, and had more offensive boards. Unfortunately, the terrible three point shooting highlights the loss, but so too does the defensive breakdowns, which helped San Antonio answer each and every momentum shift the Pacers attempted to seize.
Of course, the Pacers didn’t do themselves many favors with another dreadful night at the line. They finished just 5-9 while the Spurs shot 17-24. Officiating wasn’t the reason the Pacers lost, but this was a rocky game from an officiating standpoint. It’s possible Indiana does enough to steal this one against a lesser team, but despite entering below .500, there’s no doubting the Spurs are going to be difficult to beat when you fall behind 9-1 before hitting your first shot.
These last two losses are brutal ones to take on not only because of how well they played against Utah sans Oladipo, but because they effectively threw away a couple of games just before heading out on their first West Coast road trip. The Pacers will spend all of next week on the road, kicking off against the Utah Jazz on Monday night.
If San Antonio entered with revenge on their minds after the Pacers handled them last month, the Jazz will be even more hellbent given the freshness of their own loss to Indiana. Going to need to show up with or without health.