Aaargh. This was a sad game to watch. I had family/community/holiday obligations this evening so I had to Tivo the game and watch it much later. I found myself saying, "I stayed up until 12:30 for THAT?" And now I have to write about the darn thing...
Blazers 95, Pacers 108
--This was a horrible night overall for everybody in our backcourt. Our point guards committed 9 turnovers on their own while shooting a combined 4-of-11. Webster played 10 minutes total because of foul trouble, passivity on offense, and general cluelessness on defense. That meant it was Juan Dixon time. It may look like Dixon snapped out of his slump but believe me, for the first three quarters he was just brutal. He missed everything from two foot shots to long rainbows and was getting capped left and right. Also the big Indiana comeback was mostly due to their guards and who do you suppose was watching them for 33 minutes? JD did hit a few shots in garbage time and hopefully that will prime the pump for the next game. I know Jack had a lousy game tonight but one of my questions is: when Martell is ineffective and Dixon is missing, why not play Jack at the two-spot for a while? It would give Sergio another ball handler on the court and it's not like JJ is any shorter than Juan at that spot. It would also free up Jack to just concentrate on scoring for a while.
--This game was all about swings in transition. When we built our big lead it was because Indiana was turning it over, we were running it down their throats (a rare occurrence for us, but we looked good doing it in that second quarter), and they weren't getting back. When the Pacers came back it was because we were turning it over, they were running it down our throats, and we weren't getting back. Unfortunately the latter situation lasted longer than the former. Thus the 108 points we gave up. The second quarter was magnificent for us, the third quarter a disaster.
--We really didn't come out to play in this one. Aside from the fast breaks energy was lacking all night. This team just doesn't seem able to handle success. We come out with a great game in Detroit and almost win in Milwaukee and then we start this game flat as a pancake and have trouble playing hard throughout. On the other hand when we have a truly awful game (and this one got close) we come back with energy. Wouldn't it be easier just to play right all the time?
--This was another game where we shot 45%, got 33 free throw attempts, and still got crushed like recycled aluminum. We gave up 49% and 37 free throw attempts from lousy defense. Our rotations were just horrible.
--Speaking of the fouls, almost all of our guys were in trouble early and often. That contributed to the lack of continuity. But when you don't move your feet that's what you get.
--Jamaal Magloire was the one guy in this game who came out with consistent energy. He shot 5-for-7 for 14 points and 7 boards. My cynical side wondered if he thought Indiana was one of the teams he could be traded to...
--Zach started out the game right where he started the Detroit game, which was lofting contested outside jumpers that missed. He then netted two quick fouls and had to sit. The team's energy on both ends picked up immediately. We clamped down on defense, stole all those balls, and built up our lead. Everybody gets more energy when they get to touch the ball every once in a while I guess. When Zach's on he's really a savior for the team. But when he's checked out he drags everything down with him. And this is one of the hidden costs of Zach on those non-focused nights. He pretty much has to score a ton of points to overcome it. (Which, thankfully, he's been doing...there's no question he's still a net plus to the team.) Again to his credit, as we have seen in previous games, after he watched the team bust their butts he busted at least half a cheek himself when he came back in. But again I ask why that isn't there to begin with. He ended up with an impressive scoring night of 29 points but a poor rebounding effort (4 boards) and defensive showing. As Jason Quick reported the icing on the cake was that when he was leaving the court after fouling out with 15 seconds left to go, he showed the crowd exactly how many points he was short of scoring 30, but he didn't exactly use his index finger. And yes, it was shown on TV (the Indiana feed anyway), his hand was up at shoulder level and at least half extended, and there was no mistaking it. Nate went over to him immediately. I liked Nate's quotes in Quick's game summary. If Zach gets suspended for a game I'm going to be angry though, because Toronto might be a winnable contest.
--Sergio embodied the tale of two halves more than any other player. He got some good run in the first half, made a couple nifty passes, and was largely responsible for getting us running on the break. But in the second half Indiana had figured him out. Remember how Billy Ray Bates withered once people figured out all he was going to do was try and score with his right hand? Something similar happened to Sergio tonight. Instead of trying to impede his progress the Pacers just had a couple guys shadow him wherever he went, not even touching him, just hanging with him. The minute he flipped a pass anywhere they just said, "Thanks!" and started running away with the ball. The end result was four turnovers in sixteen minutes.
--Lost in all of this was that Travis Outlaw had a pretty nice game. He flourished in the running game, as one would expect. He ended of 5-for-8 with 13 points, 5 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
--Lamarcus, on the other hand, forced some shots, didn't get a ton of rebounds or minutes, but managed to collect four fouls in the process. Even with Jermaine out it just wasn't his game.
--Speaking of wasn't his game, Jarrett Jack followed up his best game as a pro with one of his worst. The stats don't tell the story. He was just stymied out there. But even with the four turnovers and six missed shots out of nine it was more that Indiana stopped him from doing good things than him actually doing a ton of bad ones. He was just a non-factor, which for us is a disaster considering how much we depend on him and have come to expect from him.
--Nate looked vaguely nauseous on the bench towards the end of the game. Can't say I blame him...