March Starts, Ends With Pacers Home Loss To Magic
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INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana’s toughest month of the 2018-19 season ended exactly how it started, with a home loss to the Orlando Magic.
Not even returning to Bankers Life Fieldhouse could turn the Pacers back to their winning ways on Saturday night.
Poor play on the defensive end of the floor caused the 121-116 defeat to the Orlando Magic.
“It’s unacceptable,” Darren Collison said after Saturday’s loss. “We can’t lose a game like that, especially at home, especially when everything is going our way most of the game. It’s a tough loss for us but it was inexcusable on our part. The coaching staff did everything they could to put us in position to succeed. As players, we have to take this one on the chin. This is a game we can’t drop.”
With the loss Indiana (45-32) also missed a chance to climb back into the 4th seed of the East, with Boston (45-32) losing earlier in the night.
Saturday’s back-to-back for the Pacers had 9 ties and 18 lead changes before the Magic pulled ahead for good in the final quarter.
Indiana actually led by as many as 9 points late in the third quarter before Terrance Ross (16 points off the bench) and Aaron Gordon (23 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists) started to assert themselves.
Both have been a major thorn in Indiana dropping 3 straight games to the Magic (38-39) this season.
Defensive issues for the Pacers were there from the start on Saturday.
The Magic connected on 52 percent of their shots and finished the game with an astonishing 37 assists and just 7 turnovers.
Collison led Indiana with a season-high 24 points.
In losing to the Celtics and Magic this weekend, Indiana was left searching for answers down the stretch of two very winnable ballgames.
“In the second half teams are able to get to another level and raise their energy and intensity, and we are not able to do that,” Nate McMillan said after the defeat.
“We’ve had challenges finding a closer…Defensively we’re not getting stops. In the second half teams are coming out with more than we are and they’re going on runs.”
The Pacers now enter April having lost 7 of their last 8 games.
Three Pacers’ Takeaways:
-Wavering Defense: The best attribute about the Pacers this season has not been on the same level during this skid. Orlando shot 52 percent from the floor on Saturday, and had 37 assists, compared to just 7 turnovers. The rim protection of Myles Turner can only do so much if the ball isn’t being stopped on a consistent basis out on the perimeter. Indiana was broken down way too much on Saturday and it led to the Magic knocking in 15 three pointers and receiving strong play from their bench. A team with point guards in D.J. Augustin and Michael Carter-Williams should not pile up 37 assists in a game.
-Cory Joseph’s Recent Struggles: Normally one of the Pacers’ most consistent and reliable players, Cory Joseph has not been that for Indiana recently. Joseph has never been a major perimeter threat, but his outside shot has struggled mightily in the past month. With the ups and downs the Pacers have received all season long from Tyreke Evans, they’ve needed Joseph to be that calming presence. Nate McMillan relies on Joseph for a lot, but the Pacers must get more from the versatile guard on the offensive end of the floor if he is going to give this team late-game minutes during the playoffs.
-Must Take Care Of Homecourt: In the Pacers losing 7 of their last 8 games, 6 of those losses have occurred away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Orlando was actually the only team to beat the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in March. But the issues away from home as of late has put even more of a burden on Indiana to take care of home court. They’ve left themselves virtually no margin for error when playing at home, even when they are playing on the second night of a back-to-back, like they were Saturday. The Pacers will close the season with three of their final five at home, all against Eastern Conference playoff teams. March was easily the toughest month of the season for the Pacers schedule wise. They finished it 4-10.
Pacers Remaining Schedule
-Pistons (Monday, 4/1)
-at Pistons (Wednesday, 4/3)
-Celtics (Friday, 4/5)
-Nets (Sunday, 4/7)
-at Hawks (Wednesday, 4/10)