Pacers can’t surface from watery grave, sink late in Los Angeles


In one of the strangest Indiana Pacers games of the season, a massive comeback wasn’t enough to defeat the Lakers on the road.

That was some game, huh? After the first 12 minutes of Indiana Pacers basketball, I hastily tweeted this:

Little did I know, the Pacers would overcome a 24 point first quarter deficit to take a lead in the third quarter. The Pacers looked like a middle school ball club in the first quarter but decided to flip the script in the second. Outscored 38-15 in the first quarter, the Pacers roared back with a 35-18 second-quarter run to make the game close. They even held a lead in the third before a late LA run put the game on ice.

LeBron James took over in the fourth quarter, finishing the night with 38 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. It was a quiet 38 for the King but he took over when it mattered, triggering the PTSD in every Pacer fan. The Lakers’ real MVP was former Pacer Lance Stephenson, whose relentless cheerleading motivated his teammates to victory.

Considering the circumstances (no Vic, road trip, LeBron’s crib, first quarter slip), the Pacers have to be somewhat happy by tonight’s performance. The first quarter is one to forget but the Pacers played great defense throughout the rest of the night. Yet, the offense still isn’t the same without Oladipo‘s magic. LA nightlife seemingly took a toll on the Pacers and their leader wasn’t there to keep them in check. As Oladipo might carol, she knew the whole squad was not connected (not sorry).

20. Final. 96. 100. 104

Let’s get to some observations.

CoJo=DPOY? (But seriously, Joseph was great on defense and deserves a mention)

Let’s give Cory Joseph a mulligan for his first quarter performance since, well, everyone was horrible. The Pacers clearly didn’t get the memo that it was showtime night. For the rest of the outing, Joseph was fantastic on the defensive end. With Darren Collison struggling, Cory Joseph has stepped up in a big way. His shot selection and overall offense are questionable but the defense was excellent.

Notably, he checked Brandon Ingram for much of the night, throwing the six-inch height disparity and massive wingspan disadvantage out of the window. Playing with great effort, Joseph stayed in front of Ingram, didn’t give him leverage, and challenged him into difficult shots. Joseph has underrated glue-guy equity and played a large role in the Pacers’ comeback effort tonight.

Tyreke, we need to talk.

Tyreke Evans‘ performance has been a topic of concern over the first quarter of the season and all of the bad culminated into one epic flop of a performance tonight. Beyond Evans’ six turnovers and 2-10 shooting, Evans was downright horrible in all areas of the game. On offense, he looked way too calm, relaxed, and out of focus. He let the Lakers block him way too easily on multiple occasions and had this glorious Shaqtin’ moment, which actually sums up his night quite nicely:

Evans’ three steals are misleading as he was bad on defense by all marks. His effort was spotty and he looked helpless in containing Laker ball-handlers and locating the ball defending off of the ball. Evans was supposed to be able to come into the starting lineup and at least hold down the fort with Oladipo out but his play has been disappointing, to say the least.

Pacers weren’t invited to the Lakers’ block party

The Pacers struggled to finish tonight. Their poor 37.2 FG% is a good indicator of the Pacers’ dire struggles at the rim. There wasn’t one culprit: Thad Young‘s lack of touch, Domas Sabonis‘ lack of explosiveness, and Tyreke Evans blocking himself all played a part. However, the Lakers blocked an absurd 11 Indiana shots. Many of these blocks, though, could have been avoided. Whether it was a nonchalant layup at the rim that needed more urgency or a botched fast break, the Pacers were undisciplined at the rim and the Lakers took advantage.

And now, player grades:

With Cory Joseph’s breathing down his neck and Aaron Holiday’s continued improvement, Collison’s time as a starter may be coming to an end.. PG. Indiana Pacers. DARREN COLLISON. C

Indiana Pacers. VICTOR OLADIPO. N/A. Without Oladipo, the Pacers <a href=. SG

Indiana Pacers. BOJAN BOGDANOVIC. B. Bojan Bogdanovic had a lot of great moments tonight scoring the ball and playing solid defense. He is key for the Pacers, especially without Oladipo creating offense.. SF

C. Meh.. PF. Indiana Pacers. THADDEUS YOUNG

Indiana Pacers. MYLES TURNER. B+. Although the stat line wouldn’t tell you, Turner played another great game. His activity on defense is key to Indiana’s success.. C

Indiana Pacers. DOMANTAS SABONIS. A. Sabonis continues to put the team on his back. He led the Pacers in scoring with 20, adding 15 rebounds as well.. C

D. Tyreke doesn’t look like the player he was in Memphis last season and his inability to create offense is killing the Pacers.. SG. Indiana Pacers. TYREKE EVANS

A-. The defense is real, folks. Despite my contempt with the dribble in a circle pull-ups, Joseph’s energy and defense are critical.. PG. Indiana Pacers. CORY JOSEPH

Tonight was more proof of Dr. East’s theory of McDermottivity, which states that when Dougie is involved, good things happen (D=MC^2).. SF. Indiana Pacers. DOUG MCDERMOTT. B

In limited minutes, Holiday continued to impress. His confidence shooting and activity on defense should have him usurping minutes from Darren Collison soon.. PG. Indiana Pacers. AARON HOLIDAY. B-

Injuries unsurprisingly expose the weaknesses of the Indiana Pacers. dark. Next

The Pacers finish their west coast road trip in Sacramento on Saturday. Hopefully, they can take down the jump start Kings and finish the trip 3-1.