The Indiana Pacers had their offensive wasteland on display late in the second half, turning a high water mark Domantas Sabonis poster on Joel Embiid late in the third into an 17-point deficit just seven minutes later. The Philadelphia 76ers outscored the Pacers 23-7 from the two minute mark of the third through the first five minutes of the fourth, though Indiana’s woes didn’t stop there, ultimately trailing 94-77 with just over five to go.
In that stretch, the Pacers shot 2-16 and 0-5 from three point range. On the night, the Pacers as a team couldn’t break 40%, but they managed to stay on top due to their ability to keep Philadelphia off of the offensive glass. That all changed during The Run as the 76ers pulled in three of their four offensive rebounds.
The Sixers were also able to capitalize on turnovers, forcing the Pacers into four miscues, leading to six points. To add insult to injury, Philadelphia was also able to hit some big shots from deep, drilling three to push the lead into double figures. It was a cornucopia of fortune for a Philly team that simply needed that one key stretch to seal the win.
Somehow, it looked even worse than the numbers suggested. Not only was Indiana not able to hit anything, but they didn’t look to have a clue as to how to best attack the Philadelphia defense. Neither of Indiana’s field goals in that run were assisted on, but even the good looks throughout the game were likely to either clank off the rim or pop in and out, compounding the offensive struggles further.
Trailing by 17 with five minutes left, the Pacers did manage to stage a mini-comeback, drawing the game to within nine. The lead swelled back to 13 with 3:22 remaining, and the Pacers did what they needed to do defensively from that point to work back by holding Philly scoreless for three straight minutes, but again, shot making betrayed the Pacers, who down just eight missed a crucial three with 90 seconds left.
The Pacers suffered their first back-to-back loss of the year despite a season high night from Victor Oladipo. Oladipo was masterful in the first half, guiding the Pacers to a 50-50 tie behind 24 points. He finished with 36, filling up the stat sheet with seven assists, six rebounds, three blocks, and two steals, but was forced into a heavy usage role, again shooting inefficiently from three at just 4-14.
Though looking around, there wasn’t much reason for Oladipo to not take every shot. Sabonis was the exception, finishing with a tremendous 16 point, 11 rebound double double. He refused to back down to anything in this game, challenging Embiid with a force, even taking on three Sixers for a ferocious rebound.
However, no one came close to stepping up. Only Bojan Bogdanovic reached double figures of the rest of the team, hitting a pair of threes late in the fourth to help keep the door open for a while longer. Beyond that, there wasn’t much to speak on regarding anyone’s performance. Thaddeus Young had five rebounds and two steals, but missed all three of his three attempts. Darren Collison and Myles Turner were large no-shows in terms of overall impact. Turner had seven points, helping the duo total seven, shooting a combined 2-11.
Off the bench, Cory Joseph gave the Pacers little in terms of pace though he shot better at 4-6 with four assists. Tyreke Evans finished 3-10, committing his two turnovers during Philadelphia’s game sealing run. There also continues to be a complete lack of purpose regarding the usage of Doug McDermott. McDermott had just two attempts, his lone three lacking any sort of rhythm.
The Pacers drop to 7-5 with the loss, including a disappointing 1-2 in this homestand. After the game, Oladipo talked about how the team needed to loosen up and more importantly, self-reflect on their roles. With the schedule continuing to hammer the Pacers, these next two games will be big opportunities to get back to being what they do best.
Despite the second half collapse, the Pacers did do some things well throughout the game, including forcing Philadelphia into turnovers and limiting their opportunities on the glass. Unfortunately, with their shot making being shaky at best, the Pacers were playing with fire in terms of holding the Sixers at bay.
Overall, the Pacers have really struggled to piece together a solid overall game in two solid weeks. Defensively, the Pacers have been there even in the losses, entering the game 5th in defense and really coming together late in this game to keep the Sixers from closing out the win on their terms in the final minutes.
Offensively though, it’s been a real uphill climb. After scoring 110 or more in four of their first six games, the Pacers haven’t reached that mark once since, including three games in which they failed to even break 100. As mentioned earlier, the schedule isn’t going favor the Pacers in bucking that trend in the immediate future as they hit the road for a pair of games this weekend beginning against the Miami Heat on Friday.