For a nice change of pace, the Portland Trail Blazers leapt out to a commanding lead in Saturday night’s matchup with the Indiana Pacers, leading by as many as 20 points in the first half. Unfortunately, the game lasted a full 48 minutes, and the final few were particularly painful for Portland. The Pacers outscored the Trail Blazers 28-13 in the fourth quarter, turning an 8-point deficit into a 7-point victory.
Pacers-Blazers was the kind of shootout that somehow gives you confidence in neither team going forward.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) December 11, 2016
Unreal. Blazers whistled for 5-seconds violation on inbound pass.— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) December 11, 2016
Pacers ball, leading 114-109, with 31.4 secs left.
Damian Lillard (33) and CJ McCollum (34) combined for 67 points in the loss, highlighting the importance of team execution. The Trail Blazers cannot rely purely on their backcourt when the collective falters.
Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes:
All of the Blazers' issues flared up late against Indiana. Trailing by three with under 40 seconds left the Blazers desperately needed a defensive stop. Instead, they gave up an offensive rebound as Paul George dunked home his own miss to put the Pacers up five.
Portland called a timeout, needing a quick score to stay in the game. But Moe Harkless couldn't find a teammate on the inbounds play and the Blazers were whistled for a rare five-second violation.
The Blazers went nearly six minutes without a field goal from the 7:24 mark of the fourth quarter until Lillard made a layup with 1:52 remaining. During that stretch Indiana roared back, taking a 110-105 lead following an 11-0 run capped by a George jumper with 3:49 left.
The Trail Blazers (12-13) look to salvage what remains of this miserable road trip with a chance to beat the Los Angeles Clippers (17-7) on Monday night. Forward Al-Farouq Aminu (back) is once again doubtful to play, so they will have their work cut out for them.