The Indiana Pacers opened up the week with their second straight game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, this time against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Pacers caught a break as Chris Paul missed the game due to a rib injury and J.J. Redick injured his ankle very early in the game. The first quarter was mostly a battle between Paul George and Blake Griffin as they scored 13 and nine points, respectively. The game remained close up to halftime as Lance Stephenson put up 12 points and three assists in the first half for the Clippers. The Pacers entered the fourth quarter with a three point lead before Paul George led a run that increased the lead to 86-70 with just under 9:00 left in the game.
The Clippers did make the game close as they got within five in the final minutes, but the Pacers made great defensive adjustments as they pulled away to win, 103-91. Paul George finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds, and Rodney Stuckey finished with 18 points off the bench. The Pacers had a great defensive effort as they held the Clippers to 38 percent shooting for the game.
With a six-game winning streak on the line, the Pacers headed into Portland to face the Trail Blazers, where they have lost six straight. The Pacers got off to a great start as they led 10-0 early In the first quarter. The Blazers quickly got back into the game with their three-point shooting as the Pacers' lead shrunk to 31-28 at the end of the quarter. The Blazers three-point shooting continued as the Pacers led 59-56 at the half. The lead was erased quickly after the half as Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum continued to shoot at a rate that the Pacers were not doing anything to stop. The lead for the Blazers never got out of reach, but the Pacers never mounted consecutive defensive stops in the second half and the Blazers backcourt constantly made big shots as they pulled away to give the Pacers the 123-111 loss.
The Pacers gave up 67 points and 18 three-pointers in the second half, which was a franchise high for the blue and gold. Paul George had his lowest point total of the season as he struggled and scored only 11 points on 4-of-17 shooting. The Pacers defense truly hit a low point as they allowed the Blazers to shoot over 50 percent from the field and from three for the first time all season.
The Pacers continued their roadtrip to face the Utah Jazz, where they attempted to avenge their loss from earlier in the season in Indiana. Paul George was also very focused coming into the game as he once again posted double figures in the first quarter, as he scored 12 points in the quarter. The only issue was that George was the only offense in the first quarter, as the Jazz jumped on Indiana early and took a 12-point lead in the first quarter. The Pacers came back in the second quarter and were led by Stuckey and George, as they had 30 combined points at the half. The Jazz led 57-52 at the half and the lead ballooned to 71-54 early in the third quarter on the scoring of Derrick Favors.
Paul George continued to will the Pacers as he had 31 points by the end of the third quarter and the game was tied entering the final quarter. George continued to dominate the fourth quarter as he poured in 14 points and the Pacers led 108-103 with 1:18 to go. The fortunes for the Pacers changed in that moment as Ian Mahinmi was given his sixth foul, a call that has since been admitted by the NBA as an incorrect call. There was also some questionable calls regarding Paul George being stripped by multiple Jazz players when they were trying to foul when no foul was actually called. Regardless of the missed calls, the Pacers failed to box out in the clutch and the game went to overtime on a missed George three.
The overtime started well for the Pacers as George reached 48 points for the night on a deep three to give the Pacers a quick three point lead, however, Lavoy Allen was called for his sixth foul early in the overtime. With Jordan Hill injuring his back early in the game, the Pacers had no big men to guard Favors and the pick and roll so the Jazz took advantage. Favors scored six of the 12 points for the Jazz in a 12-6 run to close the game, as the Pacers fell 119-122. Paul George’s monster game went for nothing as he put up 48 points, eight rebounds, and three assists on 15-of-27 shooting. The Pacers also failed to defend at a high level as they gave up 122 points for the second straight game to a team that is in the bottom of the NBA in possessions per game.
The Pacers gave up only 91 points in their victory, but 255 points in their losses (122 PPG) for the week. The Pacers seemed to rely on their offense too much and neglected the details on the defensive end. The Pacers scored 103, 111 and 119 for an average of 111 points per game. With that scoring average, they should have gone 3-0 for the week, but a team giving up an average of 112 points per game will not win many games unless that team is the Golden State Warriors.
Paul George had one poor performance, but he more than made up for it as he was awarded the Eastern Conference player of the month. George posted averages for the week of 30.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists on 41.7 percent shooting from the field and 46 percent shooting from three.
This spot goes to the Pacers defense as they gave up 111 points per game for the week. They also allowed 45.7 percent shooting from the field and 37.2 percent shooting from three. The struggles for the Pacers began on three fronts. They failed to box out in the paint, pressure the perimeter, and close out on three point shooters.
The Week Ahead:
The Pacers have three games this week as they play a prime time matchup on Tuesday, December 8th against the undefeated Golden State Warriors. They have a back-to-back set against the Miami Heat and the Detroit Pistons on December 11th and 12th.
The Pacers will have a tough test to start the week against the Warriors. Many think that it will be an impossible task for the Pacers to win. They have a lot of things going their way as Golden State is in the middle of a brutal seven-game road trip and have not had much rest during the trip. If the Pacers put George on Stephen Curry, C.J. Miles on Klay Thompson, and maybe Lavoy Allen in the small ball lineup, they may have a chance to effectively matchup. The teams will combine for 250, but the Pacers will squeak out a very spirited matchup by a last second shot to win by a field goal.
The Pacers will follow their momentum into the game against the Heat where they will try to limit Hassan Whiteside off the boards. If they keep him in check and keep Dwyane Wade under 25 points, they will provide enough firepower to pull away late for a comfortable, but hard fought victory. The next night in Detroit, the Pistons will be waiting with revenge on their minds. The Pistons will be a bit too much on the boards in this game as the Pacers will fall this time in the Palace of Auburn Hills to finish with a 2-1 record for the week.
2-1 for the week
Monta Ellis will have first 30-point game during the week.