Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 7:00 PM ET at Time Warner Cable Arena
Game Rewind: Pacers 87, Bobcats 109
Scott Agness | March 5, 2014
After last night's loss to Golden State, multiple Pacers players said the time is now to raise their game and begin hitting their stride with a little more than a month to go before the playoffs.
In Charlotte Wednesday night to complete a dreaded back-to-back and hit the hardwood for the fifth time in seven days, the Pacers (46-15) fell behind big early and never were able to take the lead in a 109-87 loss to the Bobcats (28-33). For just the second time this season, the Pacers have dropped consecutive games.
Despite the loss, the Pacers clinched a playoff spot for the fourth consecutive season.
The start to the game was memorable for Indiana, for all the wrong reasons. They managed just eight points, the fewest in NBA franchise history for the first quarter. Coach Frank Vogel was forced to burn two early timeouts as he saw his team miss its first five shots and fall behind by 20 points. The Bobcats, meanwhile, shot 57 percent and forced six turnovers, which allowed them to take a 28-8 lead after 12 minutes.
The Pacers bounced back from a brutal opening period and started the second on a 19-3 run. They did it by picking up their activity level, upping their ball movement, and protecting the paint. Reserves Luis Scola and Evan Turner each scored six points, already topping last night’s bench contribution.
Although the Pacers put 30 points on the board in the second and got within three, the Bobcats scored the final six points of the half to extend their lead to nine, 47-38. Paul George was scoreless through two quarters (0-for-8) and Al Jefferson had his way in the post, outscoring Roy Hibbert, 20-2.
Slow starts to quarters were yet again problematic after the break. The Pacers missed nine of their first 10 shots in the second half and tumbled behind in a hurry. Going back to the end of the second quarter, the Bobcats used a 14-2 run to expand their lead to 15. Pacers guard George Hill, who re-aggravated his bruised shoulder injury but remained in the game, scored nine of his 17 points in the third quarter while trying to get his team back in the game.
After shooting 29 percent as a team in the third and entering the final stanza down by 16, Vogel brought Chris Copeland off the bench for the first time in five games. Copeland hit two 3-pointers and a pair of three throws in less than two minutes to make it a 13-point game, but they wouldn’t get any closer. The Bobcats ended a three-game slide (with all of those losses coming against the other top three teams in the NBA), up-ending the Pacers by 22.
Indiana’s recent play is undoubtedly a big concern. After losing just seven times in their first 40 games, they’re now 13-8 in their last 21 contests. Part of it has been working in new players and dealing with injuries, but their defense, which has been praised for leading the league in key categories, has slipped. In each of the past nine games, Indiana’s opponent has scored 91 points or more.
Time to regroup.
Inside the Numbers
Playing his sixth game in a Pacers uniform, Evan Turner led the team in scoring for the first time with 22 points, 12 coming in the final quarter. George Hill had 17 points and Lance Stephenson closed with 12 points and eight rebounds. Chris Copeland’s 11 points (3-for-5 from downtown) were two points shy of his season-high.
Paul George had his worst offensive game of the season. He had reached double figures in all but one game this season until tonight, where he failed to make a shot 0-for-9, and finished with two points, seven rebounds and five turnovers in 34 minutes.
The Bobcats shot 51 percent as a team and had six players finish in double figures. Kemba Walker made half of his 14 field goals, tallied 19 points and dished out nine assists. Indiana natives Josh McRoberts (12 points, five rebounds) and rookie Cody Zeller (11 points, five rebounds) had solid games against their hometown team. Zeller has had four consecutive double-figure scoring games.
The Pacers were outscored by the Bobcats in the paint, 44-24. Those 24 points were just two more than Indiana's season low. They dip to 10-8 on the season when they score fewer paint points than their opponent.
The Pacers drop to 9-8 on the second night of a back-to-back.
“Over the last 20 games or so, we just haven’t had our mojo. … We’ve got to change some things up because these last 20 games is going to be a battle.” – David West
“Right now I think we’re on our downs. We just got to get back on our ups, work together and play as a unit.” – Lance Stephenson
“This was a tough loss for our guys. … We struggled to score early and you have to give credit to their defense. They are a good defensive team. We made the extra pass and couldn’t buy a bucket.” – Frank Vogel
“The Bobcats are a great defensive team. All five players were dialed into everything he was doing. If he beat his man there was help. You just have to give them credit.” – Frank Vogel on Paul George’s performance
Stat of the Game
Bobcats center Al Jefferson scored a game-high 34 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Pacers big man Roy Hibbert was limited to just four points and four rebounds.
- Charlotte’s victory ends Indiana’s five-game win streak in the series.
- Pacers backup point guard C.J. Watson dressed for the game, but didn’t play because of a sprained right elbow injury sustained in Sunday’s win over Utah.
- The Bobcats were without Gerald Henderson (right calf strain), Brendan Haywood (stress fracture in left foot), and Jeffery Taylor (ruptured right Achilles).
The Pacers continue their three-game road trip by heading to Houston, where they'll take on the Rockets Friday night at 9:30 p.m. EST. Game Preview »