For a while on Monday night, it looked liked the good times would keep on rolling for the Pacers. Indiana led by 14 points heading into the fourth quarter, only to watch the San Antonio Spurs (33-19) claw back and come away with a 95-93 win on Marco Belinelli's jumper from the left baseline with 2.1 seconds remaining.
With the loss, the Pacers (20-33) have now dropped 14 of their last 15 games against San Antonio. More pertinently, San Antonio's victory snapped the Blue & Gold's season-high three-game winning streak.
Meanwhile, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich became the ninth coach in NBA history to accumulate 1,000 career wins.
The Pacers had seized control of the game with a 34-point third quarter. Indiana shot 62 percent in the frame and closed the period on a 20-6 run that gave the hosts a 14-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
But that didn't dissuade the defending champs. The visitors rallied, eventually tying the game on a pair of Tony Parker free throws with 3:13 to play that capped a 9-0 run.
"Credit their bench for making a run in the fourth quarter," Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. "We just had some unfortunate plays the last few minutes that went their way."
Rodney Stuckey's jumper with 2:33 remaining put the Indiana back on top, but the Spurs evened the score once again when Aron Baynes put back Kawhi Leonard's miss with 56.7 seconds left.
The Spurs got the ball back and called timeout with 21 seconds remaining. Popovich went small, subbing out Baynes for Belinelli, a move that Pacers head coach Frank Vogel didn't counter. That left power forward David West guarding the smaller Leonard, whom the Spurs isolated at the top of the key.
Leonard drove past West, forcing a series of defensive rotations. Roy Hibbert slid over to help on Leonard at the baseline, which led to Stuckey pinching down from the wing to help out on Hibbert's man, Tim Duncan.
That left Belinelli open in the corner. Once Leonard found him, Stuckey rushed back over to contest Belinelli's shot, but the sharpshooter made a nifty pump fake that sent Stuckey airborn and allowed him to step into the game-winner.
"Kawhi did a great job of executing the play," Popovich said of the sequence. "Belinelli got it, they took away the three, he made a pump fake and got the two instead."
West's perspective: "Stuck (Stuckey) was doing his job. He came down to pinch down on Duncan, and Marco just made a big play over Stuck’s closeout."
Indiana had a chance to win at the buzzer, but George Hill's 3-pointer missed right, leading to a chorus of sighs from the home crowd.
Stuckey led six Pacers players in double figures with 18 points. West finished with 10 points, a season-high 18 rebounds, and seven assists.
Parker led all scorers with 19 points and also dished out six assists. Duncan finished with 15 points and eight rebounds for San Antonio, while Belinelli added 12 points off the bench.
Indiana has one more game before the All-Star break. They will head to New Orleans for a Wednesday night matchup with the Pelicans.
"We're going to do what we can to try to go down to New Orleans and get a win," West said. "And come back from the break hopefully refreshed and looking to make a legitimate push down the stretch of the season."
Inside the Numbers
The second half was a tale of two quarters. Indiana made 13-of-21 shots in the third (61.9 percent), but connected on just 6-of-22 attempts (27.3 percent) in the fourth. The Pacers made just 1-of-12 shots over the final 5:35 as San Antonio closed the game with a 13-2 run.
Not only were West's 18 rebounds a season best, but they matched the most he's recorded in a single game in his Pacers career. West also set a season high with seven assists.
Stuckey surpassed 7,000 career points on a layup with 10:54 remaining in the third quarter. Stuckey is the 93rd active player to reach that milestone and the third current Pacers player to reach that mark, joining David West and Luis Scola.
In addition to West and Stuckey, four other Pacers players finished in double figures. C.J. Miles had 13 points despite going 1-for-7 from 3-point range. Scola had 11 points off the bench on 5-of-10 shooting. Hibbert added 10 points and eight rebounds, while Solomon Hill also tallied 10 points.
George Hill scored seven quick points, hitting his first three shots, but went scoreless the rest of the night. It is just the second time Hill has failed to reach double figures in 13 games this season.
You Can Quote Me On That
"They’re the defending champions. They’re going to change up their scheme. They’re going to go do some of the things they like and that work. And they’re going to stay with it. I think they got more aggressive as they got down. They started looking for the first option and really going and trying to get three’s and try to get themselves back in the game and provide some energy." -Solomon Hill on the Spurs' comeback
"We just weren’t sound enough down the stretch and gave them too many extra possessions. We’re disappointed we let this game get away. We had an opportunity to beat another good team and we let it get away from us." -David West
"We did not expect to have David up there on Kawhi. Have to give a lot of credit to Kawhi. He recognized the mismatch of having a big on him, so he was able to penetrate, draw the defense and make a great pass." -Tim Duncan on the winning play
"It’s definitely the definition of a pounding the rock win. It was a great win for us. When we were down 14 at the start of the fourth quarter it didn’t look good. We stayed together, we put some stops together, even though we couldn’t hit a shot." -Tony Parker
"It was a great game. It was a playoff sort of game between the two (teams) and anyone could have won. We were fortunate we made a shot." -Gregg Popovich
Stat of the Game
The storyline of the night was Popovich, who became the third-fastest coach to reach 1,000 wins, doing so in his 1,462nd game. Popovich joins Jerry Sloan as the only coaches to accomplish the feat with a single franchise.
RELATED: Vogel on Popovich's Achievement »
"I don’t do too much celebrating," Popovich said when asked about the accomplishment. "I’ve been here a long time and I’ve had good players. Getting the players is difficult but I’ve been fortunate to have good ones and the time is the most important element. You’ve got to be around for a while. It’s more a tribute to them than any coaches."
- The Spurs have won seven straight games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana hasn't defeated San Antonio at home since April 1, 2007.
- Overall, the Spurs have won 14 of their last 15 games against the Pacers and lead the all-time NBA series between the two franchises, 50-35.
- San Antonio's bench outscored Indiana's reserves, 43-35. The Pacers are now just 1-12 on the season when scoring fewer bench points than their opponent.
- Popovich, George Hill, and Frank Vogel all picked up technical fouls over the course the game. For Vogel, he now has nine technical fouls on the season, more than any other NBA coach.
The Pacers visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night, Feb. 11 at 8:00 PM.