Halfway through the first quarter, Darren Collison hit a three to bring the Indiana Pacers to a 16-16 tie against the Golden State Warriors. Indiana never pushed into the lead, but were able to go blow-for-blow with the champs. That is, until Stephen Curry went back down to the other end, hit a three. It was part of eight straight points from Curry and by the end of the quarter, it was a 40-22 Warriors lead.
So yeah, the game was decided early. A loss was really to be expected, it becoming a blowout was something the Pacers would’ve simply liked to avoid. However, the way they faltered late in the first proved a death wish, especially given the ease in which Golden State was able to score. The Pacers shot below 40% in the quarter, Golden State nearly shot 70%.
Indiana continued to fight, losing the second and third quarters 61-57. Numerous times the Pacers cut the lead to within 20, but again, that ease of offense from the Warriors, in addition to an uncanny ability to attract loose balls, kept Indiana from ever coming any closer.
Part of extending these particular runs to get back in games that quickly get out of hand is going to come down to whether anyone can step up as a scorer. The Warriors’ four All-Stars totaled the four highest individual point totals of the night. Curry was unconscious from everywhere on the floor to score 26, but Kevin Durant stumbled into 16 points on what amounted to really poor night from him, going 7-21.
Indiana meanwhile was led by Myles Turner with 16. He played well on the offensive end, going 7-12, and even took matters into his own hands with a nifty iso play towards the end of the second quarter. Yet he only had 12 shots. Indiana’s best push of the night came in the third quarter, when active defense finally forced stops, setting up Bojan Bogdanovic for a pair of threes. Yet he finished with just 15 points on 13 shots.
The Pacers have proven they can score (and win) by committee. They had 29 assists tonight and every rotation player scored. That just wasn’t going to be enough in a game like this and there was no one they were really able to turn to when they needed a 10-point quarter to provide some kind of challenge.
Of course, this is an extreme example against a generational opponent, but it was still to some degree what hindered them in their loss against Memphis. The Pacers played much closer to themselves tonight, despite allowing 132 points, but there was still no real sense of who, if anyone, can lead the way in making up for the 20 points Victor Oladipo scored.
It didn’t help that in the search for go-to scoring, the Pacers were also without Tyreke Evans, setting up Edmond Sumner to get his first NBA start. He was the only starter to not reach double figures, scoring just two points (on a nice cut) on 1-10 shooting. Sumner was a little anxious offensively, but did show some positive signs in the third quarter with his defense and activity, picking up a steal, block, and drawing a foul on Curry on a loose ball play.
Aaron Holiday led the way for the second unit with 12 points, going 4-5 from three point range. He also had four assists, three of those coming in the early stages of the second quarter when Indiana was at their closest following the 24-6 run to end the first. T.J. Leaf had eight, showing off on a pair of follow-ups. Unfortunately, Domantas Sabonis struggled however, getting taken to work by DeMarcus Cousins, scoring just six points with five rebounds while Cousins muscled his way to 22 and six.
The Pacers have now dropped back-to-back games for the first time in 2019. While a two-game losing streak following the loss of Oladipo to injury feels like uncharted territory, the Pacers were in this exact same position back in November. They lost back-to-back games to Charlotte and San Antonio without him before heading out West for four games. In the opening game of that trip, the Pacers blasted Utah for the second time in a week.
Indiana’s upcoming four game trip will be a big test for this team in the short term in whether they can find enough of a rhythm to bounce back as they have all season. They’ll start with the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night, facing an improved Washington team that has been 8-5 in their last 13, as they continue to work themselves back in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture.