The Indiana Pacers continue to head in the wrong direction with another late game collapse, dropping them below .500 in a heartbreaker to the New York Knicks. The Pacers led 99-93 with four minutes remaining but Myles Turner would miss two free throws and the Knicks would come the other way.
The inability to push the lead to three possessions was a big one in a game that consisted almost entirely of runs. So for New York to quickly make it a one-point game a minute wasn’t a surprise. Turner again missing two free throws as a response was. Aaron Nesmith would come up with the second miss however, eventually setting up a jump ball situation.
He would win the jump against Quentin Grimes as Turner chased down the ball, diving out of bounds to save possession for the Pacers. Buddy Hield would knock down a huge step back three to extend the lead out to four at 102-98, giving the Pacers some much needed breathing room.
this whole sequence >— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 19, 2022
Myles Turner saves the loose ball, and Buddy Hield hits the stepback three. pic.twitter.com/YBGGtZKarj
After getting a stop, the lane opened up for Nesmith, who slammed home a dunk to push the lead out to six with 1:56 remaining. Jalen Brunson scored the only five of the quarter as a response, including an interception of an Andrew Nembhard pass to once again make it a one-point game.
The Pacers, reliant on their three point shot throughout the night, couldn’t sustain their success, missing the follow-up and sending Julius Randle to the line to give New York the lead for good. Randle would calmly step into six free throws to seal the win as Tyrese Haliburton lined up a half-court shot at the buzzer that went juuuust long, wrapping up the loss.
It’s the fourth time in the last five games the Pacers have fallen short in the clutch despite holding leads with five minutes left in all but one of the losses. Though their win against Golden State is a bright spot, they have still been outscored 75-47 in the last five minutes of these five games.
It’s not surprising New York ended the game on a run, but Indiana didn’t help matters much by missing 11 of their last 12 threes. Hitting just five more than the Knicks wasn’t enough in a game they shot 43% overall and missed eight free throws while getting outscored by that many. In addition to Turner (0-4), Chris Duarte showed some rust at the free throw line in his return, shooting 2-5.
The return of Duarte did lead to some lineup shakeups, including some run with Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith together. That proved fruitful for both, with Smith scoring eight points on 4-5 shooting and Jackson rebounding extremely well, pulling in eight points to go with a pair of points.
That sort of effectiveness was pretty limited with the bench as a whole, however. Duarte had six points in return, missing both of his threes and while T.J. McConnell dished five assists, he was just 1-5 shooting. Bennedict Mathurin also had a tough night shooting, going just 4-16, but working his way to the line to go 7-7 to balance things out for 15 points and six boards.
Interestingly, three of his four field goals were and-ones, including a nice first half jam in a dunk heavy first half for both teams.
Nesmith would lead the way with a career high 23 points, completing his first double double with 10 rebounds. Nesmith, along with Hield, were 9-16 from three point range, doing a bulk of the damage from deep for Indiana. Hield also scored 23.
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 18, 2022
Aaron Nesmith with his fourth 3-pointer tonight. pic.twitter.com/SaRKVxHBVq
Haliburton wrapped up the double figure scoring with 15 points and 10 assists, shooting 5-16 from the floor, struggling to get much going, including a pair of missed threes late. It was a rough night in particular for Turner, who shot just 2-10 with six points, both on threes. Andrew Nembhard missed all three of his three point attempts as well, finishing with four.
The loss drops Indiana to 15-16, their first time under .500 since November 9. That’s a tough spot to be in given their upcoming schedule, but this upcoming three game road trip will be a good test, beginning with a Wednesday night matchup against the Boston Celtics. Boston has been the top team in the East for much of the season, but will enter on their own losing skid, losing four of five, including back-to-back games to Orlando.