An all-too-familiar script played out for the Pacers at the Moda Center as they took on the Western Conference powerhouse Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night. After playing a top-tier opponent tough all night, they couldn’t finish the job in an 88-82 loss, their third consecutive defeat and fourth straight loss away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
In an ugly first half for both teams, the Pacers shot just 36 percent and turned the ball over 13 times, leading to 19 of Portland’s 38 points over the first two periods.
Somehow, Indiana found itself down just five points at the half, as the Trail Blazers also played sloppy basketball, shooting at a 37 percent clip and giving the ball away 10 times.
The second half was starkly different: The Pacers scored 26 third-quarter points after scoring just 33 in the first two quarters combined. Heading into the final 12 minutes, Indiana trailed the Blazers by just three.
Things started out well for the Pacers in the 4th, as a 3-pointer by Damjan Rudez and a bucket on the next possession by Luis Scola tied the contest at 64 just over a minute into the final period.
But Portland reeled off a 13-2 run to take an 11-point lead with under six minutes remaining.
Despite the setback, Indiana rallied back behind Roy Hibbert and David West, who made or assisted on 10 of the Pacers’ next 14 points to cut the deficit to 83-80 with 53 seconds to play.
From there, Indiana couldn’t overcome two made foul shots by Damian Lillard, a missed 3-point attempt by Rudez, and with the need to stop the clock, a foul that put Lillard back on the line, where he made another.
Trailing by six with 23 seconds to go, Chris Copeland had a 3-point look from the left wing, but his shot rimmed out – the fourth 3-point attempt for Indiana that met that fate – and the game was all but over.
Four Pacers finished with double-digit scoring efforts, led by Solomon Hill, who had 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Hill also grabbed eight rebounds, four of which were offensive boards. Rodney Stuckey added 14 points on 6-for-14 from the floor, also pulling down six rebounds and dishing out five assists.
West was 6-of-13 from the field for 13 points, and he also had eight rebounds. Scola was solid off the bench once again, pouring in 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting in 17 minutes.
Hibbert, in his second game back after a four-game absence due to a sprained left ankle, finished with nine points, seven rebounds and and a block in 31 minutes. His backup, Ian Mahinmi, did not score but had 10 boards in 19 minutes on the floor.
As a team, Indiana shot 39.6 percent and Portland shot at nearly an identical clip – 39.8 percent. Both teams had problems connecting from beyond the arc; the Pacers were 5-for-18 (28 percent) and the Blazers were just 4-for-21 (19 percent).
Lillard led all scorers with 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range. LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points on 7-of-21 from the floor, but made both of his 3-point attempts. He also finished with 13 rebounds to register a double-double.
Inside the Numbers
Once again, turnovers were a huge factor for the Pacers. Though they only gave the ball away four times in the second half, the 13 first-half miscues put them in a tough position early even with all of Portland’s shooting woes.
The Blazers and Pacers came into the contest ranked No. 1 and 2 in the NBA, respectively, in team rebounding. Indiana outrebounded Portland 51-48. The Pacers had 11 offensive rebounds to Portland’s five.
You Can Quote Me on That
“We want to try to score on the break when we can, but we don’t want to get into a shooting match with them. So controlling the pace was part of the plan.” - Coach Vogel on the pace of the game
“Any loss is frustrating, but we grew on the defensive end. We gave up one hundred and sixteen points in Phoenix the other night. We want to get back to being who we are, dominating rebounding, and I think we took a step towards that.” - Coach Vogel on playing solid defense, but coming up short
"I think we accomplished a majority of what we wanted to do in the beginning of the game… At the end of the first quarter it was 16 to 14; we wanted to bring life to the table. Copeland did a really good job of just playing defensively. We did a really good job...I don't think we executed as well as we needed to pull out the W." - Solomon Hill on what went wrong for Indiana
"It was a couple little things. We had the chance to get the ball in our possession and a couple opportunities...It was just the little things. We were trying to stay close...but they're not an easy team to play against and I think we did a very solid job on the defensive end...We're still not there where we want to be. We have much room to improve on both ends." - Damjan Rudez on how the game turned
“We helped our defensive numbers tonight. Can’t say so much about our offensive numbers, but I was really pleased with the way that we continued to defend throughout the game. Offensively, we had a lot of good shots and they weren’t going, but we won with our defense tonight. We stayed with it for the whole game.” - Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts
“Good teams find a way to win. They mucked it up, they made it ugly. We didn’t help because we didn’t make our shots. We still got good looks and opportunities, but we’re happy with how we played defensively. I think our presence and our help were probably the best all season so far. Our shot wasn’t there but we still found a way to win.” - Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews
“I think it was a great win for us. I definitely think we were the more physical team and that was big for us.” - Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez
Stat of the Game
The Pacers only went to the free-throw line four times in the entire game, making five of eight. Portland attempted 23 free-throws, making 18.
- The Pacers held the Trail Blazers, who entered the game as the 6th-highest scoring offense in the league, to their lowest point total in a single game this season. Portland's previous season-low was 90 points in a loss to the Warriors on Nov. 2.
- Indiana's loss was its sixth consecutive defeat in Portland. The Pacers' last victory there was back on Nov. 28, 2007.
- Roy Hibbert's block in the first quarter was the 904th of his career, moving him into a tie with Dale Davis for fourth in Pacers franchise history.
- The Pacers are now 7-7 when their bench outscores the opponent's bench, and 0-5 when an opponent's bench outscores Indiana's. Against Portland, the Pacers' bench scored 24 points and the Blazers' bench scored 18.
The Pacers visit the Sacramento Kings on Friday, Dec. 5 at 10:00 p.m. ET.