Game Rewind: Trail Blazers 97, Pacers 92
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Another Groundhog Day loss for Pacers
By Conrad Brunner
Three double-digit advantages. Three fourth-quarter leads. Three losses.
The Groundhog Day road trip continued for the Pacers Saturday with a 97-92 loss in Portland before 20,563 in the Rose Garden eerily similar to previous defeats to the Clippers and Warriors. Indiana led 64-51 in the third quarter, was up 70-67 entering the fourth and could not hold on despite a severely shorthanded opponent.
Missing leading scorer Brandon Roy and center Marcus Camby, the Blazers lost point guard Andre Miller to a stomach ailment in the opening minutes but patched things together midstream, found enough scoring to complement surviving anchor LaMarcus Aldridge inside and took control with an 11-0 run midway through the fourth quarter.
The Pacers got 24 points from Danny Granger, who continued his solid production on the trip, while the Blazers got 25 from Aldridge and 23 from Nicolas Batum, who made four 3-pointers to help turn the game around in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers now have their first four-game losing streak of the season, dropping to 16-24 overall and 6-14 on the road. They've lost 12 of their last 13 road games and are 2-7 in January. Portland won its fifth in a row overall and fifth straight against the Pacers to improve to 25-20 overall, 16-5 at home.
- "They really got hot from the three. Spent so much attention on (LaMarcus) Aldridge, who's a great player, they caught fire from downtown. They played (Wesley) Matthews and (Nicolas) Batum and Aldridge 43-plus minutes and it's a credit they were able to pull that game out." – Pacers coach Jim O'Brien
- "We're doing a lot of positive things every game. We're not getting victories on this road (trip) but we played well enough in most games to put ourselves in a position to win. We just haven't been able to pull it out." – O'Brien
- “We had a lot of energy the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter we let it slip away. They made some 3-pointers, (we) messed up on a couple rotations… what can you do?” – Pacers point guard Darren Collison
- "You have to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, we’re put in these situations where we’re losing these leads, and at one point we’ll have to learn from it, and learn what we have to do to close out a game better." – Pacers forward Danny Granger
STAT OF THE GAME
The Pacers lost for the ninth time when they led or were tied entering the fourth quarter. The Blazers won for the NBA-leading 10th time when they trailed or were tied entering the fourth.
TWEET(S) OF THE GAME
Mine (@conrad_brunner): "Pacers blew double-digit leads in first two games of trip. Blazers trying to make it three, up 79-77."
Theirs (@johnhollinger): "Four triples by Batum to start 4th quarter and Blazers go up by 8. Methinks Indy fans have seen this movie before."
Opening with a great deal of energy, the Pacers put together a 21-6 run to build a 35-19 lead early in the second quarter as Portland struggled after Miller left. Once Blazers Coach Nate McMillan moved Rudy Fernandez to the point, however, the Blazers stabilized and began chipping away, cutting the margin to 53-46 by halftime.
The Pacers opened the third quarter with an 11-5 run to push the lead up to 64-51 but Aldridge took over, scoring 13 as the Blazers outscored the Pacers 37-13 to take control. When the Pacers got the ball out of Aldridge's hands, it ended up with Batum, who tossed in four 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter to help Portland extend the lead to 88-77 with 5:55 left.
The Pacers came right back with a 10-2 run to close to 90-87 but Fernandez made a huge 3-pointer with 1:26 left to make it a six-point game. Indiana went to Collison on four straight possessions and he scored on the first two to keep things close but came up empty twice in a row. With the Pacers trailing 93-89, Collison's tough jumper in the lane was blocked by Dante Cunningham and their last chance expired.
BY THE NUMBERS
Granger was 9-of-15 from the field, 1-of-3 from the arc for his 24 points, adding five rebounds but zero assists. On the trip, Granger has averaged 29.3 points on 58 percent shooting. Collison had 14 points and seven assists but shot 7-of-18 and committed five turnovers. Mike Dunleavy scored 14 on 5-of-7 shooting and Roy Hibbert returned to the lineup after missing a game with an upper respiratory infection and produced a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Pacers shot 47 percent overall but were 6-of-18 from the 3-point line and were plagued by turnovers once again, committing 19 that led to 21 Portland points. Indiana had just 16 assists.
Aldridge was 8-of-20 for his 25 points, adding 12 rebounds and four assists. Batum made 5-of-8 from the 3-point line for his 23 points, adding six rebounds. Matthews scored 19 points with nine assists, while Fernandez had 11 points, eight assists, six rebounds and two steals off the bench. Cunningham added 10 points and five boards. Portland shot 42 percent overall but was 10-of-20 from the 3-point line and had 29 assists.
- Josh McRoberts, who started in Hibbert's place Wednesday, was inactive along with Dahntay Jones and Lance Stephenson.
- Portland played without three key players out with knee injuries: Roy, Camby and Greg Oden and lost starting point guard Andre Miller in the opening minutes of the first quarter when he left with gastroenteritis.
- Aldridge is averaging 26.9 points (51.8 percent shooting) and 10.2 rebounds in 12 games in January.
- The Trail Blazers trailed by 16 points in the second quarter, which is the biggest deficit the team has overcome all season.
The Pacers conclude this trip Sunday in Denver against Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets (8 p.m., Fox Sports Indiana, WIBC 93 FM).