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Indiana Pacers Can’t Complete Comeback Against Golden State Warriors

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — The Indiana Pacers couldn’t complete their late game comeback effort to beat the Golden State Warriors. The end result was a 131-123 win for the Warriors. Indiana has dropped to 12-8 on the season and now hold the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, meanwhile, the Warriors are a perfect 23-0 and are the best record in the NBA.

Indiana held a 21-15 lead with 6:35 left in the opening quarter, but the Warriors quickly started the beginning of an offensive clinic. Golden State used a 22-0 run during the first quarter, which resulted in a 44-28 Warriors’ lead after one quarter. The Warriors did a tremendous job of getting open shot attempts during the second half of this quarter. Off-ball screens, off-ball movement, a quality ball movement made the Pacers no match for this high powered Warriors’ offense.

The Pacers gave a more tightly contested effort in the second quarter, but they were still out-scored 35-32 during this quarter. In normal games for the Pacers, a 32-point quarter would be something that really be a momentum shifting occurrence. But then again, playing the Warriors is not just a normal game. Indiana had nothing in their bag of tricks to force many turnovers or bad shot attempts in this first half. This goes to show just how good the Warriors are as a team, because the Pacers have been a top five overall defense in the entire league.

Things did not get better for the Pacers in the third quarter, they were out-scored 23-32 by the Warriors. Indiana did a much better job overall on the defensive side of the ball, however, their third quarter offense wasn’t good enough to get this win. The Pacers found themselves trailing 111-83 at the end of three quarters. It simply not enough offense by Indiana for them to have a legitimate chance of winning this game.

The Pacers posted an impressive 40-20 scoring advantage in the final quarter, but they would have needed 49 points in this quarter to ultimately win the game. That is the scoring amount of a typical half, so that would have been an unrealistic goal to obtain. So again, the Pacers didn’t get enough offensive execution in the third quarter to compete with the Warriors’ ridiculous offensive execution for a win. But scoring 123 points should be enough for a win, so the obvious reason for losing was allowing 131 points.

Klay Thompson was practically a one man wrecking crew with his perimeter shooting. He shot 10/16 in this game from the perimeter, he ultimately scored 39 points. Golden State did a tremendous job of utilizing off-ball screens and drive-and-dish scenarios to get Thompson open, but he still did a great job of making tough shots. Whether those tough shots were occasionally off the dribble or if they were contested, Thompson managed to execute a high percentage of them. Rim protection and interior defense was weak by the Pacers, so they were forced to respect ball handling penetration almost every time it occurred. This forced collapses in the help-defense and allowed for either finding an immediate open man, or it resulted in chain ball movement for an open shot. Overall, the Warriors could almost do no wrong on the offensive side of the ball as they managed to shoot 52-95 (54.7%) from the field, 16-36 (44.4%) from the perimeter, and 11-15 (73.3%) from the free throw line. Indiana had to play “on an island” defensively with their man-to-man defense, but they couldn’t get enough execution from that to get a win.

Stephen Curry wasn’t shooting his usual percentages from the perimeter in this game, but he still was lethal for the Warriors. Curry had 29 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals. Curry shot 11-23 from the field, 3-11 from the perimeter, and 4-6 from the free throw line. Thompson and Curry practically led the way for the Warriors as they combined for 68 points. Brandon Rush was the only other Warrior to make a 3-pointer, he shot 3-6 from the perimeter to score 13 points on the night. Golden State used double figure scoring performances from Klay Thompson (39), Stephen Curry (29), Andrew Bogut (14), Brandon Rush (13), and Festus Ezili (12) to lead their offense. Golden State had even more scoring support from Draymond Green (8), Shawn Livingston (8), Andre Iguodala (6), and Ian Clark (2).  The balanced scoring output was largely due to tremendous ball movement, as seen by their 29 assists as a team.

Indiana was led by Paul George as he had 33 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block. George shot 11-27 from the field, 5-13 from the perimeter, and 6-7 from the free throw line. C.J. Miles was George’s best support offensively, he had 24 points. George Hill (12), Chase Budinger (12), and Jordan Hill (10) were the only other double-digit scorers. Monta Ellis (9), Ian Mahinmi (8), Solomon Hill (6), Rodney Stuckey (5), and Lavoy Allen (4) also scored for the Pacers. Indiana did a solid overall job in terms of executing as a whole on offense, but their defensive execution forced their offense to have unrealistic expectations to win this game. This game showed that the Pacers need an interior presence that can efficiently score, rebound, set screens, and move without the ball. Indiana has struggled all season to get efficient production from mid-range and in the paint, which has to improve if they want to be serious contenders. It appears that trading for a starting quality power forward is the answer for these problems.

Indiana was close in a lot of the statistical areas, but Golden State simply executed more frequently on their shot attempts from in the paint, mid-range, and the perimeter. For example; rebounds (Pacers: 44, Warriors: 46), assists (Pacers: 23, Warriors: 29), turnovers (Pacers: 16, Warriors: 15), points off turnovers (Pacers: 20, Warriors: 17), fast break points (Pacers: 23, Warriors: 15), points in the paint (Pacers: 48, Warriors: 48), shooting efficiency from the field (Pacers: 44%, Warriors: 54.7%), shooting efficiency from the perimeter (Pacers: 42.4%, Warriors: 44.4%), free throw shooting efficiency (Pacers: 80.8%, Warriors: 73.3%), steals (Pacers: 8, Warriors: 10), and blocks (Pacers: 3, Warriors: 6). Golden State held too many advantages in too many areas for the Pacers to have won this game, but the Pacers deserve credit for keeping it within single digits. Indiana gave up too many second opportunities tonight as they have all season, which has been a major problem particularly in their current three game losing streak. This game showed that the Pacers are not a complete team, as previously mentioned, getting a starting quality power forward would be a great move to bring this team to the next level.

Next game for the Pacers is a home game against the Miami Heat. Tip-off for this game is at 7:00 P.M. Eastern on December 11, 2015.

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