After a pair of tough losses to these Toronto Raptors, the Indiana Pacers eschewed any possible late game struggles by getting blown out right out of the gate. The Pacers trailed 13-1 before the first timeout and proceeded to shoot 17.4% in the first quarter, getting outscored 34-12.
Getting to 12 was a minor miracle given how shockingly bad the Pacers were at putting the ball in the basket. Not only were three pointers not going (they shot 2-11 in the quarter), but even layups were bouncing wildly off the rim. It was a case of everything going wrong, sure, though the Raptors had their own say in it by forcing Indiana into 11 first quarter threes.
The Pacers scored seven quick points to open the second, but made up just a single point in the process by allowing two end of shot clock threes to Kyle Lowry and Terence Davis against Indiana’s zone. During this, Jeremy Lamb came down hard on his knee after getting fouled on a dunk, sending him out of the game for good.
His injury was a best case scenario of sorts, diagnosed as a sore left knee, when it looked like it could have been much, much worse. That would, sadly, be the best news the Pacers would get all night. After cutting the lead to 17 with 8:31 in the second, the Raptors scored the next nine, all but ensuring the conclusion of the game.
Indiana finished the first half with just 32 points, less than Toronto had in the first quarter alone. They trailed by 31, shot just 23.9% for the half, and were combined 12 points from their starting lineup, shooting a dreadful 6-31 in the process. If not for Justin Holiday (and to an extent Doug McDermott), the Pacers would’ve fallen well short of that low bar.
Once again, the Pacers started a quarter off in a positive sense by outscoring Toronto 6-0 out of the gate. As was the case in the second quarter, however, any headway the Pacers managed to make was immediately erased by Toronto’s vastly superior execution. The Pacers did manage to win the third quarter by a point, only to see the Raptors garbage time unit put up 42 fourth quarter points to wrap up the 46-point difference.
For the game, the Pacers shot 32.6%. That was bad enough, but they had 18 turnovers, were blocked 10 times, and were obliterated in transition by the tune of 33-13. The one area they struggled in that wasn’t much of a surprise was their three point shooting. The Pacers finished 8-33, their sixth game in the last 10 where they’ve shot under 30% from deep.
The looks were there, the execution, not so much. Aaron Holiday, starting in place of an absent Victor Oladipo, missed three solid looks in the opening three and a half minutes as the Pacers quickly fell behind 13-1. It didn’t get much better among the starters. Both Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon blanked from distance, going 0-4 each, while T.J. Warren had just one make on five attempts.
The aformentioned J. Holiday made four of his seven attempts to score 12 points for the game. Even Indiana’s one lone first half advantage, bench scoring, turned into a Toronto advantage with the fourth quarter outburst. Holiday was one of three double figure scorers, joined by Domantas Sabonis and Aaron with 14 each.
Neither got there with much grace, however. Sabonis was 6-16, getting stuffed three times in the fourth quarter by Chris Boucher. Holiday piled up his points in the final period, scoring nine. Turner scored seven on 3-10 shooting, the best percentage of any of the other three starters, including 4-15 from Brogdon and 3-12 from Warren, neither breaking double figures.
In a sense, everything went wrong for the Pacers. Part Murphy’s Law, part simply being completely ill-prepared, they managed to shoot under 40% in the paint and were woefully ineffective in running the zone in one of the great Indiana Pacers “why can’t we do that?” mysteries.
Indiana drops to 3-7 in their last 10 games with this loss, needing to rely on the struggles of Miami and Philadelphia to even continue entertaining possible home court advantage. Tonight’s loss was a bit of a compounded result given all of their single digit losses during the six game losing streak, but not all feels right in Pacers land.
Whether that is or isn’t the case, it will become a little more clear over the course of the next six games, when Indiana plays just one playoff opponent. Four of those games will be on the road, part of a five game stint that will begin after their next two games at home, starting with the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday.