Indiana Pacers: Fourth quarters continue to be a problem

Nate Bjorkgren, Indiana Pacers - Credit: Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
Nate Bjorkgren, Indiana Pacers - Credit: Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers have been playing some good basketball over the past two weeks and carried that momentum into an early afternoon meeting with the Jazz. Utah currently has the best record in the NBA, sitting at 42-14 atop the Western Conference.

Indiana, meanwhile, is now just 26-29 and in ninth place in the East as the playoffs loom in the distance. On Friday, the Pacers traveled to Utah with a chance to pick up a big win that would’ve been one of the more impressive on their resume up to this point.

The Indiana Pacers continue to falter in the fourth quarter

Things started out well for the Pacers as they took control in the first half, holding a double-digit lead for most of the first 24 minutes. Domantas Sabonis was dominant in the paint early on while attacking Rudy Gobert with some success. Caris LeVert and Malcolm Brogdon also carried over some strong play of their own and helped rally the Pacers in the closing minutes of the half.

A 13-point lead at halftime was incredible for Indiana even though Pacers fans knew that lead would not last forever. The Pacers have choked away too many big leads this season and Friday was all but certain to give the same result against arguably the best team in the league right now.

Indiana struggled to close in the third quarter as the lead slowly shrunk into the single-digits and eventually into a tie game to start the final frame. Utah used a massive run in the final three or so minutes of that third period to tie things up and had all the momentum heading into the fourth.

In a surprise to nobody, Utah continued to shine in the fourth while the Pacers could not get up quality shots. They were too focused on going at Gobert and that backfired on more than just a few occasions. Gobert, who is probably the favorite to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, proved why on Friday.

The Pacers could get nothing going in the fourth and the deficit grew in the final minutes before they eventually fell 119-111. Indiana managed to score just 20 points in the third quarter and 22 in the fourth while Utah posted 33 and 30 respectively. In total, the Jazz outscored the Pacers 63-42 in the second half and put the game away late.

If the second-half and fourth-quarter struggles do not get any better, the future of Nate Bjorkgren will certainly come into question.

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