Yes, Indiana’s most efficient three-point scorers, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young, and Cory Joseph, combined for just seven points and one three last night against Houston. And no, the Pacers did not show enough effort or energy at times to match the Rockets. But the Pacers did not play as dreadfully as the score might imply.
First of all, the Pacers struggled and did not play well, I know. That should be expected from a young, brand-new team playing against a top three team in the league (not to mention, the top three-point shooting team as well). Keep in mind the Rockets have an MVP candidate in James Harden, an excellent coach in Mike D’antoni, and a starting five who have played together much more than 14 games (the amount the Pacers starting five has played).
It takes time to truly figure out your teammates, and there will be bumps in the road to get to where you want to be as a team.
The Pacers hit a bump against Houston, but they also showed promise against a now 11-3 Rockets team who just extended their winning streak to six games and sit atop the Western Conference.
When I say promise, I mean that even when down big to a great team, they show the intangibles that most teams do not demonstrate when they are down double-digits. They continue to play with heart and continue to play together, which will benefit them in the future.
After a dismal first quarter in which the Rockets led 35-18, the Pacers looked tired and just beaten down. They had no energy whatsoever. Oladipo and Thaddeus Young continued to pick up the rest of the team and told them to not worry about the scoreboard and keep playing with a lot more energy.
They sure did listen.
The bench started the second quarter on fire, going on an 11-0 run and eventually cutting the lead within five. Domantas Sabonis contributed nine of those points, with excellent passing by Lance Stephenson and great overall defense that also helped facilitate the run.
Bottom line; they did not give up.
While the Rockets did eventually call a timeout and increased their lead, ultimately winning the game, the Pacers responded, and for the most part, kept the game from getting out of hand until maybe the fourth quarter.
The Pacers bench was a huge positive, outscoring the Rockets 40-31 and out-rebounding the Rockets bench 20-10. They showed the most energy in a game where they needed to step up due to the starting unit struggling to get things going.
The biggest issue for the Pacers was their starters ability to score the ball and defend the three. They were outscored 87-55. Indiana’s starters had a tough time shooting three-pointers, only making five compared to the Rockets’ starters making 12, which is unacceptable against a team like Houston.
That is not exactly the worst issue to have, because the Pacers have proven that they can shoot the ball and make threes. The Pacers created great opportunities and shot open shots, but ultimately could not capitalize. If the starters would have played like we are accustomed to seeing, with better performances from the likes of Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic, the Pacers would have probably kept the game close and entertaining.
Like I said, The Pacers did not play well. There is a lot of room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball, but they continue to show grit through adversity and show promise while only playing 14 games as a unit. This should excite any fan of the Pacers.
While many people may see this game as nothing but a bad game, I see a promising new team still trying to figure each other out against a top-tier team in the NBA.