Corey B. Elliot
ISR Senior Writer
INDIANAPOLIS- The Indiana Pacers don’t want this six-day break during the upcoming NBA All Star weekend; they need it.
The Dallas Mavericks came to Bankers Life Fieldhouse Wednesday night after a blowout loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on the back end of back-to-back road games while the Pacers were fresh off a day’s rest after humiliating the Denver Nuggets at home. You wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference, though. Indiana played almost as sloppy as you would have expected Dallas to play in the first quarter and throughout much of the entire game.
Dallas stuck with Indiana like a thorn in their side all evening teeter totting with the Pacers, swapping the lead eight times and tying it up nine until the fourth quarter where they outscored Indiana 21-11. While Indiana’s defense held true to it’s reputation holding a Mavericks offense averaging 104 points per game to 81, the Pacers’ offense was less hit and more miss throughout the game.
“We held them to 81 and they have a pretty high octane offense but they’re not a good offensive team by any stretch. We just didn’t have enough,” David West said. “It’s frustrating to lose, we’re disappointed when we lose at home. We don’t like to lose at home but we’re at 40 wins so that’s how we look at it.”
West had 12 points, five rebounds and six assists. The Pacers pulled within three points just under a minute left after Paul George drained a three, but quick, forced looks on possessions following two trips to the line for Dallas buried Indiana. George finished 12 points and seven rebounds while fellow All Star Roy Hibbert was hardly noticeable contributing four points and seven assists.
“It was a tough night for our guys, they didn’t play very well and Dallas played a motivated game. We knew they were going to come in and make up for last night and respond to a blow out in Charlotte,” Frank Vogel said of the Mavericks game plan. “They certainly didn’t play their sharpest but they guarded us well and our shots weren’t falling.”
Admitting that you need a break isn’t a sign of weakness nor is it a symbolic waving of the white flag. It’s an honest assessment of where you’re at and yet so much further to go.
I’m not going to suggest that the Pacers are making excuses, especially after West said they weren’t. But if this break could have come at a better time for Indiana please point out exactly where that is on the schedule. The Pacers are tired, lethargic and in need of time to regroup and recuperate because the road only gets rougher from here.
The Pacers are losers of two out of their last three and both losses stick out like sore thumbs from the other 10. Sunday night’s debacle in Orlando, blowing a 17-point lead, and scoring a season low 73 Wednesday night is just the surface. When the Pacers return from the All Star break they will embark on a home stretch that is filled with trap games and grinders.
“We have to be tougher and use this break to get some rest and come back fresh. It seemed like this team wasn’t fresh,” Vogel said of his Pacers.
“We’ll just try to regroup and come back and get ourselves rolling again. We’re not going to make excuses. Coach did a good job of keeping us rested and fresh; I don’t think anybody is fatigued.”
But their schedule in March is enough to make you weak in the knees.
Indiana kicks off the month of March playing four games in five nights, two of which are on the road. Throughout the rest of March are two-in-three-night and back-to-back trap games against teams like Minnesota, Boston, Utah, Charlotte, Philadelphia and Detroit. Indiana is 7-4 in their last 11 games; they are going to find out a lot more about who they are as they close out the year and head into the playoffs.
Especially when Indiana faces Golden State, Chicago, Miami and San Antonio at home and travels to Houston, Dallas, New York, Memphis, Chicago and Washington, yes, Washington.
When the Pacers come back from the break they will have a total of six back-to-back games and 11 two-in-three night contests with the playoffs right around the corner. While I don’t expect a complete meltdown, Indiana still better strap in because it’s going to be one heck of a ride.
Corey Elliot is a Senior Writer at the Indy Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Pacers and has full media access. Follow Corey and the ISR on Twitter