As rare as losses have been for the Indiana Pacers this season, they typically have a trend – Indiana falls behind early and fails to come from behind for a win.
Wednesday night in Minneapolis against the Timberwolves was the epitome of said trend. Things unraveled early for the Pacers and the unraveling never found the pieces to put together a comeback for a win at the Target Center.
Minnesota, behind the strong offensive duo consisting of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, ripped the Indiana defense to shreds in the first quarter and in came the frustration from the blue and gold. The ‘Wolves went on to win 104-91.
Consider the Indiana Pacers starting lineup – with the partial exception of Paul George – combined for 31 points on 13-37 shooting from the field. They also contributed to the eight turnovers Indiana committed in the first twelve minutes. Yes, eight turnovers in the opening period. You can imagine how that quarter turned out.
After twelve minutes: Minnesota 30, Pacers 18.
I say ‘with the partial exception of Paul George’ because George was essentially the only Pacer that put forth a consistent effort from start to finish against the ‘Wolves. PG finished with 35 points (11-22 field goals, 10-10 free throws) and 11 rebounds. The phrase ‘partial exception’ refers to George’s seven turnovers he committed by himself.
Those turnovers did not help the cause as Minnesota routed the Pacers by 13 points on national television. George’s offensive production and rebounding made up for it, something George, the coaching staff and Indiana fans are all happy to see.
As the contest did its unraveling in favor of the Timberwolves, Roy Hibbert played a mere 23 minutes, David West found himself in foul trouble and Lance Stephenson began whirling out of control.
Nevertheless, back to that trend.
In each of Indiana’s seven double-digit losses this season, the Pacers looked as though they never stood a chance. Those defeats have come against Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Toronto and now Minnesota. All have had a trend that includes falling into an early deficit and a failure to gain the focus needed to squeeze out a win.
This is something the Indiana Pacers must figure out soon as the spring season nears.