Feel free to read this instead. Maybe check out this one. This one? How about any of these? Regardless of which is chosen, it will effectively say say the same thing: the Indiana Pacers played well for stretches of the game, perhaps even led after three quarters. The end result will always be the exact same however: they’ll have blown a fourth quarter lead and ended up losing the game.
Well, guess what? The exact same thing happened tonight against the Brooklyn Nets. Perhaps the worst part is that it’s not even as if it anything particularly different happened, either. Poor shooting, costly turnovers, atrocious rebounding...it’s all there, paired tonight with a revolving door defense against James Harden in the fourth for the latest in Indiana’s month long streak of collapsing late in games.
The Pacers started really well tonight, scoring a season high high 40 points on 17-27 shooting, including 5-7 from three. They built a 15-point advantage by blitzing the Harden-less minutes and getting a dominant quarter from Domantas Sabonis, who put in 14 points with ease.
That lead helped them out a big when the shooting dipped in the second quarter as the Nets surged back, outscoring the Pacers 33-21 before the half. The three point lead then became two after three, when the Nets edged out a 31-30 win in the third. From there, predictability took over.
The Pacers turned the ball over on their first possession and were suddenly trailing after just three minutes. T.J. McConnell tied the game, then the Nets went on a 7-0 run to effectively put the game away. Brooklyn scored 35 points in the fourth, the Pacers had just 24. That completes a 137-85 loss in the last four fourth quarters, which is, optimistically, not the worst loss in league history.
After Sabonis’s 14-point first quarter, he had just four points, finishing with an 18-11-11 triple double. The triple double is mentioned only because someone got mad when it wasn’t mentioned recently, even though there’s no real point in mentioning this one because his rebounding, along with Indiana’s rebounding as a whole, was not good at all.
The Pacers lost the rebounding battle 50-34, but allowed 15 offensive rebounds, seven of those coming in the fourth quarter, leading to 11 second chance points. While Brooklyn was having fun rebounding the ball, the Pacers were not having fun missing shots. After going 5-7 from three in the first, they finished the game 4-23, Caris LeVert putting in two at the end of the game to make it a bit rosier.
The game shifted in the second quarter in part due to a more focused Brooklyn defensive effort. It also took a hit with early foul trouble. Myles Turner in particular was hampered with three fouls very quickly, which took him out of the game defensively and limited his potential impact in the second half as he worked to avoid fouls. The fouling also helped Brooklyn to a 40-25 advantage in free throws, an advantage the Pacers were able to weather for much of the game, but certainly not for the entire night with their other issues.
Individually, Malcolm Brogdon led the way with 24 points on 10-17 shooting. LeVert also scored 19, helping the Pacers make a push at the end of the game, cutting the deficit to four before three points from Harden wrapped it up. Off the bench, T.J. McConnell and Doug McDermott each scored 12.
The Pacers now drop to 1-3 to start the Second Half of the season. This alone isn’t a real surprise given the incredibly difficult competition they’ve faced, but they’ve had fourth quarter leads in each one of them, which makes the losses that much more frustrating. They also drop to 3-8 since last winning back-to-back games on February 13 and 6-15 since their 11-7 start, including six straight home losses in that time.
The Pacers will hit the road for three more games, starting with a two-game stint against the Miami Heat. The Heat are 11-1 in their last 12 entering tonight, which isn’t a great sign, but they did last lose in one of these two-game series, so who knows?