The Indiana Pacers dropped the second half of the road back-to-back in impressive fashion, getting blown out by the Dallas Mavericks. The wheels came off at the end of the first half for Indiana, getting outscored 15-5 in the final two minutes of the second quarter, and were never able to recover, resulting in the third 20+ point loss of the season.
Indiana trailed 57-55 when Reggie Bullock and the Mavericks opened the floodgates. He hit a pair of threes, scoring eight, priming Luka Doncic to end the half in style with a buzzer beater corner three to make it 72-60 at the break. To that point, the Pacers were doing a good job keeping within reach, though they were always a step behind, never leading.
Poor shooting would doom the Pacers out of the half, missing six straight shots early as Dallas inched their lead up to 18. They outscored Indiana 32-20 in the third quarter, extending their lead out to as high as 27 before both sides (seemingly) called it a night. Indiana would come out on top in garbage time, eventually forcing Jason Kidd to put Doncic and Co. back into the game after the Pacers had cut the deficit to 16.
This was another very poor team outing for the Pacers, who allowed 130 for the third time this month, allowing Dallas to shoot over 50%, including an impressive 16-34 from deep. The Pacers meanwhile had their work cut out for them against the Mavs’ defense, coming alive in the second for 37 points, but falling under 30 in each of the other three quarters, shooting under 30% from deep.
The disappointing showing came with Domantas Sabonis playing one of his best games of the year, buoying the Pacers from the jump and eventually assisting to cut the game to the two-point deficit that would turn against them late in the second. Sabonis scored the first eight of the night, finishing with 21 points on 8-10 shooting, with 15 rebounds and eight assists.
The improvement of talent in the East this season will make Sabonis returning to the Eastern Conference All-Stars a long shot with the Pacers all but locked into the 13th spot, but tonight’s performance was an impressive one. While Caris LeVert and Chris Duarte each finished in double figures (14 & 12 respectively), it was tough sledding for the rest of the starting lineup to keep pace with Sabonis’s output, including just seven points from Justin Holiday on 1-7 from three.
As much of a one man show as Sabonis was for the starters, Indiana did get a pair of solid showings off the bench from both Duane Washington Jr. and Isaiah Jackson. Washington scored 10 of his 22 to open the second quarter, cutting an 11-point deficit to five and also led the way with 10 more in Indiana’s 14-3 run that would force Kidd’s hand in his lineups.
Jackson meanwhile was anywhere and everywhere in his 18 minutes, finishing with 12 points, six rebounds, and three blocks before eventually fouling out at the end of the game. Jackson had four offensive rebounds, all in the first quarter, helping to keep the damage to minimum after Dallas had built a nine-point lead when he entered.
Beyond that, it was a tough go, especially offensively for the rest of the team. Oshae Brissett had just five on 1-7 shooting, but did work on the glass, finishing with 10 boards, leading the team in free throw attempts with six (despite missing three). Jeremy Lamb also scored five, blocking a Jalen Brunson reverse layup in the process.
The Pacers have one more January outing before wrapping up an awful, awful month of basketball, hosting the Los Angeles Clippers in the first of three home games on Monday. Indiana currently sits at 4-11 in January and hasn’t kept a losing streak under three games in over a month, getting outscored by an average of 7.4 points per game.