In my younger days, I read a great deal of Tom Clancy. It was in those books where I was introduced to the concept that the most competent people – the most trusted – were also the ones in the position to fail the most spectacularly.
That’s what happened tonight to the Indiana Pacers.
“I just can’t be that careless at the end of the game with the ball. I second-guessed myself, hesitated a little bit, and threw it short. We just didn’t close the game the right way, and so, we didn’t get the win. They made the plays to close the game, and we didn’t.”
That’s David West describing the pivotal play in the Pacers’ 100-98 overtime loss to the Toronto Raptors. Up two with six seconds left, Indy just needed to get the ball inbounds and hit free throws. That’s when West made an ill-advised attempt to hit a streaking Lance Stephenson that Rudy Gay picked off. An Amir Johnson putback at the buzzer got Toronto five extra minutes.
That play will get the focus, with good reason. However, it was far from the only way the Pacers cost themselves a win. In a two-point overtime loss, the Pacers made 19 turnovers (including two in the last minute of OT), gave up 27 second chance points, and missed 9 of 28 free throws.
Late in a rocky fourth quarter, back-to-back threes by Paul George and George Hill looked to have given Indiana enough altitude to take the win. But they just couldn’t close it out. The Pacers led for most of the game, but it never felt like they really controlled it.
West could feel it, too. “Yeah. We knew it was going to be a tough game. Rudy’s given them some new life…but we just didn’t have the mindset to close this game. When you go up four with 12 seconds to play, you just got to be careful with the ball. You can’t give them out of bounds – no time comes off the clock – and they get a dunk.”
It’s a bitter end to what has been an otherwise been a very successful week. David West acknowledged that – despite what they accomplished earlier this week – this could be the type of loss that sticks with them.
“We feel like we should have won this game,” West said. “When you’re careless…you just don’t make the plays…you know, it doesn’t matter what you did before. We went through that three-game stretch, in my opinion, we beat three tougher teams than the team we faced tonight. We had a great opportunity tonight to improve ourselves in the standings, and we just couldn’t capitalize.”
And with that, both a five-game overall winning streak and a 15-game home winning streak were snapped. The Pacers looked tired on Wednesday, but still dominated the Philadelphia 76ers. Tonight, they were not sharp, and it cost them.
|David West, PF 41 MIN | 11-20 FG | 8-10 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 30 PTS | +9“I just can’t be that careless at the end of the game with the ball.” A+ game. F- finish. I guess that’s a C.|
|Paul George, SF 47 MIN | 8-19 FG | 5-6 FT | 14 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 26 PTS | -3Rudy Gay scored late, but so made so many tough shots…still only shot 9-for-25. Huge game…wasted.|
|Roy Hibbert, C 38 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 5 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +65 Blocks. Nothing else of any import or value. Mostly outplayed by whichever Raptor big man you care to name.|
|George Hill, PG 38 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +4When Hill hit a huge 3 late in the fourth, I thought it was going to be one of those games where he does nothing, then delivers late. Then he missed two of four free throws and had a killer turnover with 10 seconds left in OT.|
|Lance Stephenson, SG 39 MIN | 4-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -4Weakest game in awhile. Got generally torched by DeMar DeRozan.|
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF 12 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -9When it’s the fourth game…|
|Gerald Green, SF 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1in five nights…|
|Ian Mahinmi, C 15 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 6 PTS | -6and the bench gives you…|
|D.J. Augustin, PG 15 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -8absolutely nothing on the home floor…|
|Orlando Johnson, SG 14 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | 0They all fail.|
Tags: Game Recap