The Indiana Pacers continue their dissent into unfamiliar territory, getting blown out on the road to the Washington Wizards, suffering their third straight loss for the first time since they suffered a five game skid at the end of 2017. Effort has never been a question for the Pacers even when they have struggled, but this Indiana team that lost tonight came dangerous close tonight.
The Pacers did look good early. They hit their first five shots and scored 18 points in the first six minutes, but all the while, they allowed the Wizards to hang in the game. Things shifted on a dime, however, as a three foul shot foul on Bradley Beal erased Indiana’s lead for good, leading Washington to close the quarter on a 21-7 run.
The second quarter continued to trend Wizards as the Pacers bowed to the alter of Jeff Green, surrendering themselves to his energy and sweet, sweet dunks. Indiana fell behind by 14 at the half, allowing Washington free reign offensively, all while stumbling on their own end. With zero points in the fast break and just four off turnovers, it was not the Pacers basketball of the past, but looking increasingly like the Pacers basketball of the future.
Things didn’t improve much for the Pacers in the third quarter. Washington opened the second half with eight straight points to make it a 22-point game, pushing the lead to 25 halfway through the quarter. Trailing 79-58, the Pacers finally, finally, brought some effort to the game, going on an 11-0 run to trim the lead to 10 behind big play from Aaron Holiday and an ability to force turnovers and score off them.
Unfortunately, Indiana left Jordan McRae open in the corner, allowing him to hit an easy three to end the quarter on a high note for the Wizards. It was such a high note that Washington again scored the first eight of the quarter to put the game to bed. With it all said and done, the Wizards scored 107 points on 52.6% shooting, a number that dropped after sitting near 60% for good portions of the game.
The Pacers finished with only two fast break points and while they did score 14 points off turnovers in the second half, they surrendered 16. They shot 39.3% from the field and 9-31 from three point range, again going through a game where no one could step up and push them offensively.
Thaddeus Young led the team in scoring with 13 points, going 5-8 from the floor. He also led the starters in rebounds (7), assists (5), and blocks (1). He was joined in double figures by Bojan Bogdanovic in the starting lineup. He had 12, just eight coming after Indiana’s quick start in the game. Myles Turner had nine himself, scoring even less after the first quarter. His two points in the third were it, taking just four shots after the opening quarter.
Edmond Sumner brought some good energy to the game when he played and there’s clearly intrigue with him. He cut well to the basket for four of his seven and looked excited to scrap on defense, but that also led to three quick fouls in the first quarter that put him on the bench for a good while.
The second unit unfortunately didn’t lift spirits much. Holiday sparked the team in the third quarter, which brought Domantas Sabonis out of his hibernation for a brief stretch, but only T.J. Leaf played particularly well beyond that. Leaf finished with 12, scoring eight after Washington had pushed the lead up to double figures, helping bring the Pacers as close as seven in the second quarter.
Four bench players reached double figures, but they all got there with help from garbage time, including Doug McDermott, who finished with 12 with one of his better offensive games recently, but he was still extremely streaky, all while bringing the poor defensive play to the game. Cory Joseph paired well with Darren Collison in missing baskets, the two combining for 1-14 shooting and four points.
The Pacers, now losers of three straight, are clearly in a really bad place at the moment. Defensively, they’re a disaster, but offensively, there continues to be no reliability. The 89 points they scored tonight was a season low, trending in the wrong direction after scoring below their season average in their losses to Memphis and Golden State. They’ve also allowed all three teams to score above Indiana’s allowed average.
Beyond that, the really poor showing against Memphis didn’t appear to be the expected one-off. Teams have gone for the kill against them in these three games and Indiana has not been up to the task of overcoming that. The Pacers, with rest, looked flat against a team on the second night of a back-to-back. That’s a bad combination, especially when they themselves will be on the second night tomorrow, traveling south to face the struggling Orlando Magic.