Inching just north of freezing at 32.7% shooting in their blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the Indiana Pacers found a small victory in a game, and day, that was completely full of losses. Injuries piled on the Pacers prior to tipoff, sidelining Domantas Sabonis and Jeremy Lamb, while bruises in action led to shortened nights for Doug McDermott and Goga Bitadze. Oh yeah, and a JaKarr Sampson ejection.
That was all without even noting the biggest news of the day; the loss of Myles Turner to a tear in his right toe. While many of the cuts, bruises, and scrapes to befall other guys may require band aids and antiseptic ointments, Turner will miss an indefinite amount of time, though he’s not currently been ruled out for the season.
Moving into the starting lineup was Bitadze and Oshae Brissett, the latter getting his first NBA start. Things were kind of looking up for the Pacers early with their latest lineup, with back-to-back threes leading to a 15-9 advantage. That would prove to be short-lived, however, as the Spurs responded in a big way, outscoring the Pacers 27-6 to close out the first.
The Pacers, perhaps weighed down by their fifth game in seven nights, had a tough time finding the bottom of the basket, missing a ton of shots around the rim while also having a decent number of those shots simply hopping out of the basket after going halfway down. A stroke of bad luck didn’t affect the overall effort, which was competitive, especially in regards to Brissett and Edmond Sumner.
After falling behind by 17 early in the second, Bitadze led the Pacers in a brief comeback attempt, scoring six straight to bring it to within 12. The Spurs pushed the lead back up to 15, leading to 10 straight points from Caris LeVert to briefly make it a single digit game, 11 at the half.
The staggering amount of misses the Pacers were putting up was simply too much for them to overcome. Malcolm Brogdon in particular had a rough night, shooting 5-20 for 18 points, missing just about everything around the rim on a night the Pacers were actually below 40% for a time.
Unfortunately for the Pacers, Brogdon wasn’t alone. Brissett and Sumner were the lone Pacers above 50% for the night, helping buoy Indiana’s shooting percentage while the rotation bench was just 10-39, including an uncharacteristically bad night from T.J. McConnell, shooting 4-11.
A scuffle early in the fourth more or less put a capper on the game if it wasn’t already over, as Sampson was ejected when he went after Patty Mills following some in-game back-and-forth that led to it. Meanwhile, Bitadze had already been ruled out after spraining his left ankle, leading to some all-guard play that wasn’t really effective at all, but at least it was interesting?
Brogdon and LeVert led the way with 18 points each, with Brissett scoring a career high 13. Brissett offered up some nice energy, but also a reliable shot on a night the Pacers were a woeful 8-34 from three point range, hitting 3-5. Sumner was a burst early, scoring all seven of his points in Indiana’s early 15-9 advantage while Bitadze struggled at 1-7, but had nine rebounds and five blocks, playing much of the third without committing a foul after picking up four in the first half.
Given the circumstances of tonight’s game, the outcome was hardly a surprise. The biggest surprise was just how poorly the Pacers shot. The 32.7% is a season low, the 23.5% from three is the third lowest of the year, and for good measure, they also missed nine free throws, getting outscored at the line 29-18.
The home woes also continue for the Pacers, dropping them to 9-17 on the year, all but ensuring their first losing season since 1989. That’s a tough outcome to have with the pandemic limiting the number of fans that has boosted this team to long lasting home success. The Pacers will have their second of three straight at home on Wednesday when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder.