Pacers having a hard time finishing games
by Mike Wells, USA TODAY Sports
The Indiana Pacers have managed to stay in most games this season because of how they’ve been starting. Their ability to close games has been a different story.
The Pacers have lost six games in which they’ve led or were within two points of their opponent in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve lost some games we shouldn’t have lost,” forward David West said. “We’ve had a chance to get things moving in the right directions.”
The Pacers could be six or seven games better than .500 right now. Instead, they’re 10-10 with a strong possibility of dropping to worse .500 after tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder (16-4). Game time is 7 p.m.
“We did (let some games get away),” coach Frank Vogel said. “We’re playing good basketball, right in every game. It’s been tremendous for growth with our young guys ’cause there’s no better way to grow than from your own personal mistakes, and we’ve had young guys make mistakes late in games that have been costly that we’re growing from.”
Here’s a look at games that got away:
• Nov. 2 at Charlotte (90-89): The Bobcats baffled the Pacers by playing a zone defense nearly the entire game.
The Pacers couldn’t figure out a type of defense that’s mainly played at the high school and college levels. They played right into Charlotte’s hands by throwing up 3-pointers (7-of-26) instead of trying to break the zone down with good ball movement and cutting.
• Nov. 7 at Atlanta (89-86): The Pacers blew a 14-point second-half lead and scored only nine points in the final quarter.
Why? They couldn’t figure out Atlanta’s zone defense just as they couldn’t figure out Charlotte’s zone.
“We broke down,” point guard George Hill said after the game. “Everybody did. It starts with holding everybody accountable.”
• Nov. 9 at Minnesota (96-94): The zone didn’t beat the Pacers this time. A defensive breakdown by a bench player did it to them.
Hill’s 29-point game, including a game-tying 3-pointer seconds earlier, went to waste when Gerald Green was watching the ball instead of his man and Chase Budinger scored on a backdoor layup with eight-tenths of a … [For more on Indiana Pacers are having a hard time finishing games, click here.]