The rough start to the season continued tonight for the Indiana Pacers, dropping to 1-4 in a blowout loss to the Toronto Raptors. The Pacers struggled all night against the length of Toronto’s defense, and after losing Malcolm Brogdon with a sore hamstring early in the third quarter, they fell out of the game fairly quickly.
Brogdon was the lone bright spot in the first half for a Pacers team that was plagued with rebounding and turnover issues. He scored 13 of his 15 second quarter points in the first five minutes of the second, giving Indiana a brief lead. Though the game would remain close for a while yet, a 13-2 Toronto run was enough to put them up for good.
In the third quarter, the Pacers did a good job continuing their rebounding and turnover issues, as Fred VanVleet shot Toronto into a double figure lead, going up by 16 after hitting a tough end of quarter three in response a tough end of quarter three from Jeremy Lamb. Isaiah Jackson provided a nice boost in Indiana’s fourth quarter success, helping cut a game high 20-point lead to 10. Unfortunately, VanVleet, a Pacers turnover, and VanVleet again swelled the lead to 14, squashing any chance of an Indiana comeback.
To take things from bad to worse, Jackson would bang knees with Domantas Sabonis with just two minutes left in the game, needing help off the floor after appearing to hyperextend his knee. Jackson’s play really did give Indiana a more lively look after playing so poorly all night, which makes any potential absence a real blow with the teams meeting up again in just three days.
The Pacers were beaten in just about every area tonight, particularly with those turnovers and offensive rebounding woes. Indiana had 22 turnovers on the night, leading to a staggering 31 Toronto points. They actually did a good job early forcing turnovers on the Raptors, but even that well dried up in the second half, leading to just 10 total turnovers for Toronto.
On the glass, the Pacers fell one shy for the game on the glass, but allowed 16 offensive boards to their nine. That led to 27 Raptors points, which again, wasn’t helpful when searching for a win. Toronto was also much better from three point range, hitting 14 to Indiana’s 10. The Pacers picked up the pace late, but struggles in the first three quarters allowed VanVleet to drill nearly as many as on his own (six for the game) as Indiana had accumulated.
Brogdon finished the leading scorer for the Pacers with 18, which isn’t ideal for a guy playing 22 minutes of action. Myles Turner scored 10 points with seven boards and three blocks, but was out of the rotation again in the fourth quarter, logging just 23 minutes despite his positives.
Sabonis meanwhile scored the first six of the game for Indiana, but had just three points the rest of the night, finishing with nine point sand eight rebounds. Not to build on the hackneyed Sabonis/Turner discussion, but it was a curious decision given Rick Carlisle’s early season propensity to reward success on the court. The Jackson/Sabonis pairing did find success early, but was ultimately a wash when both players left the game under different circumstances.
Chris Duarte scored 14 points, picking up a nice fourth quarter steal on VanVleet, but continues to search for some efficiency, shooting 6-15. While shooting .417 on the season from three, he’s just .410 from the floor overall.
Lamb continues to be the best option off the bench as the Pacers continue to play short-handed, scoring 12, hitting both of his three point attempts. His shot on Indiana’s final possession in the third could’ve been a nice boost for Indiana heading into the fourth if not for Toronto’s immediate response. T.J. McConnell split time tonight with Brad Wanamaker, both players scoring eight. They combined for seven assists, committing six turnovers. The Pacers as a team had just 19 assists as a team, a negative assist/turnover ratio for the first time since last February.
With the losses and injuries piling up early for the Pacers, good news regarding Caris LeVert’s potential return not withstanding, the schedule also refuses to let up. Indiana will wrap up their two-game road trip by facing the Brooklyn Nets on Friday.