Without Victor Oladipo (illness) and Darren Collison (arthroscopic knee surgery), the Indiana Pacers were given a tall order in extending their home win streak against the surging Washington Wizards. As expected, the Pacers offense struggled to make up for the absence of their starting backcourt, but they still managed to create opportunities for themselves throughout the night to keep the game within reach.
Unfortunately for the Pacers, many of those opportunities were quickly self-sabotaged by poor defense, missed shots, or turnovers. The Pacers took the lead twice in the second quarter, by one point, but both times they led, they allowed Jodie Meeks to respond on the other end each time, holding the lead for a total of 34 seconds.
Outside of those leads, the Pacers spent much of the game trying to play within 10 points, but the failure to string possessions together on both ends of the floor kept them from ever truly challenging the Wizards. The Pacers allowed Washington to shoot just under 55% for the game, shooting just 46% themselves. That shooting difference was a bigger issue for the Pacers when they were outscored 30-11 in points off turnovers, including an 18-9 defeat in fast break points, picking up just five steals.
Not only were the Pacers unable to get stops, but they weren’t beat up by anyone in particular; there were eight Wizards in double figures, all but Bradley Beal (21 points) scoring between 10-15 points, with Washington piling up 29 assists and a 43-35 rebounding advantage. To put it simply, the Pacers were beaten in every facet of the game, but could have still been in position to steal a win with a string of sound play late.
Individually, the Pacers got a big night from Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored a season high 29 points. Bogdanovic didn’t stop anybody, but was a major threat from three point range, going 5-7 on a 9-15 night overall. Bogdanovic was joined by Joe Young from deep, with the pair hitting 10 of Indiana’s 12 three pointers on the night.
Young was one of four Pacers in double figures with 17 off the bench. The Pacers needed a lot to secure their first win without Oladipo in the lineup, and got really solid shooting performances from both Bogdanovic and Young. Outside of a 15-night from Domantas Sabonis (with just four rebounds) and another veteran showcase from Al Jefferson, however, the Pacers were bereft of performances that could lead them to a victory.
Lance Stephenson reached double figures with 13 points and led the Pacers with nine rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Unfortunately, Stephenson’s solid portions were met with an offsetting amount of poor play, in particular with shooting. Stephenson went just 4-14 from the floor, but it didn’t stop him from launching bad shots that are great when things are rolling, not so much when the team was desperately searching for any kind of consistency.
Stephenson played a season high 38 minutes, which likely factored into his decision making and six turnovers. The Pacers, and Stephenson, obviously benefit best from his sixth man role, but Indiana’s lack of depth in the wing position force both parties into a disadvantageous situation when faced with absences. Nate McMillan made this work somewhat when Damien Wilkins was placed in the starting lineup in place of Bogdanovic, but without him or Glenn Robinson III, the Pacers simply have no options short of starting Joe Young in Oladipo’s place, which puts Indiana in a predicament in terms of size.
That’s not to suggest Indiana’s issues tonight began and ended with Stephenson; in fact, the first game time look at Ben Moore showed little, with Moore giving up two fouls in six minutes that led to Kelly Oubre, Jr. scoring five points, pushing a one point Pacers deficit to six in the blink of an eye.
More concerning than a rookie feeling his way around his first taste of NBA minutes was the continued foul trouble of Myles Turner. Turner was again limited in the first half due to picking up three quick fouls. Turner struggled against Marcin Gortat, which on its own isn’t a real surprise, but he again allowed the fouls to take him out of the action after coming out early looking to make an impact, finishing with just six points on 2-5 shooting.
Indiana not only had their six game home winning streak snapped, but gave up a valuable game in the playoff race with tonight’s loss. The Pacers had an opportunity to tie the Wizards for fourth in the East, but now sit two games back in sixth and three back in the loss column. The Pacers also fall to 0-6 without Oladipo, which may again come into play when the Pacers hit the road to face the New Orleans Pelicans.