With 0:28 left in the third quarter, Tyler Hansbrough missed a wide open 17-footer. However, when King’s swingman Francisco Garcia bobbled the rebound, Tyler made a Tyler play, swooping in, snatching the ball, and two-handing it through the rim to give Indiana a game-high 16-point lead. All that was needed to lock up the Pacers’ 10th victory in 13 games was a marginally competent fourth quarter.
Over the last 12 1/2 minutes of the game, Sacramento outscored Indiana by 20 points, walking out with an improbable victory and leaving Frank Vogel and his Pacers to try to sort out what went wrong, and who was responsible.
The short answer on those are: everything and every one.
While some key Paul George miscues stood out on a visceral level, the truth is that the second year swing man was just one of the guys on the team — all of whom were rowing in the same direction in the fatal fourth.
It’s a common occurrence when reviewing box scores and other stat reports for numbers to jump out at you. It is not a common occurrence have those numbers jump out at you, beat you up, take your wallet, and leave you bleeding and unconscious in the gutter.
These numbers do. The eight offensive rebounds allowed daze you (they’d allowed less than three per quarter in the first dozen games). The nine turnovers (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9) vs. eight points (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8…that’s it?) knock you to the ground and leave you whimpering.
But, the numbers that absolutely curb-stomp you into a coma are 6-for-25. The Sacramento Kings shot 24% in the fourth quarter – and outscored the Pacers by 18. I have no idea how to research this, but I would be willing to bet all of your money that the last time this happened was … never.
Again, Paul George had three relatively memorable turnovers, but if you look at each individual line in the fourth quarter box, all you see is a whole lotta nothin’.
- Danny Granger – 3 points on 1/5 shooting, 4 rebounds and a turnover in 10 minutes
- George Hill – 1 rebound and nothing else in 9 minutes
- Darren Collison – After an outstanding third, DC managed 1 point and 3 rebounds in 9 minutes
- David West – 2 points and 2 rebounds in 8 minutes
- Roy Hibbert – 2 misses, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover and 0 points in 5 foul-plagued minutes.
- Hansbrough, Jones, and Amundson – 1 rebound and 2 turnovers in 8 combined minutes.
In the third quarter, the Pacers were dominant, outscoring the Kings 30-21 and out-rebounding them 13 to 5. Darren Collison (13 points) was the star, but pretty much every one contributed.
In the fourth quarter, Indiana was dominated — and pretty much every one contributed.
This will go down as a bad loss – perhaps the worst loss of the season, when all is said and done — but it’s far from certain that it will have any long-reaching ramifications. There was the continuation of two disturbing trends (poor shooting from the floor and susceptibility on their defensive glass). Also, there’s the matter of the Pacer zone offense.
Kings coach Keith Smart switched his charges into a zone defense that utterly baffled the Pacers. To be honest, I think the early fourth quarter Pacer troubles stem from what I call, “Getting on the plane too early.” The third quarter had been so easy, that it looked like the Pacers assumed this one was in the bag. Hard to blame them – I felt the same way.
But, even after the Kings regained the Pacers’ full attention, Indy’s offense was clueless. Limited movement, passing the ball around the perimeter, forcing shots and action too much when they did get into the middle of the zone, and general indecision led to bad shots and bad turnovers.
After the game, the Pacers’ utter failure against the zone sure looked like the type of thing that would be noted by scouts and coaches from other teams. Vogel disagreed, saying that Indy’s had been successful against zones this year, but I can’t recall them playing against one for any meaningful stretch earlier. My sole recollection is when the Bobcats threw a token 2-2-1 three-quarter court press at them, and the Pacer players looked at the defensive alignment as if all of their opponents had just sprouted bright, colorful plumage from their heads.
In any case, it — along with the game-long incompetence (and season-long vulnerability) on the defensive glass — is something that Vogel and his staff will need to address. I have seen some criticism of Vogel’s decision to go small over the last 5-1/2 minutes of the game, but I don’t think it has any real merit. The Pacers had given away 12 of their 14-point lead with a more “traditional” lineup in the first half of the fourth, and the simple truth of the matter is that any lineup without Hibbert (or perhaps Foster) is actually small.
No, the only real sin Vogel committed last night was the bane of coaches everywhere: his players didn’t get the job done. This was a players’ loss — all of the players — but, hey, at least they did it as a unit.