The Indiana Pacers don’t look like the same team that opened up the season 17-1. The Pacers were dealt another embarrassing loss Sunday, once again at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks.
The biggest issue plaguing the Pacers recently has been the defense, once the strongest part of this squad. What’s interesting is that in Dallas, the Pacers played solid defense in the 104-95 loss.
The Mavericks shot 44-percent, down from their season average, and the Pacers had long stretches where Dallas couldn’t buy a bucket.
Where did this team fail? For one, they turned the ball over 21 times. That led to 26 points for the Mavs. The worst offender? Lance Stephenson who coughed it up six times.
To his credit, Stephenson was very efficient with the ball and finished with 21 points off 80-percent shooting. So when he was able to take a shot, it basically went in but more often than not he was dribbling too much and making ill-advised passes.
Stephenson wasn’t alone, though, as the starters combined to turn the ball over 16 times.
The next problem? Fouls.
While many fans were probably screaming at the TV about some questionable fouls, the Pacers got far too frustrated by them. Paul George in particular was upset with the officiating and in retaliation he committed two frustration fouls that sent him to the bench. The second foul was after the Pacers had taken a five point lead and had some momentum.
George did lead the team with 27 points, but had to sit through vital stretches (when he was hot too) in the second half. He also notched a double-double with 11 rebounds. He was also one of two starters to only turn the ball over once.
George Hill was the other starter not to cough up the ball. Hill didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but managed to put up 20 points. He also snagged five rebounds, dished out three assists, and came away with a pair of steals.
The final problem? Bench scoring.
To say the bench has been pathetic lately would be an understatement. A lot of it has to do with the absence of CJ Watson who was out again with an elbow injury. But not having Watson shouldn’t lead to the reserves scoring a grand total of four points.
They were 1-for-9 from the floor. That isn’t that terrible of a stat because taking more shots certainly wasn’t going to help.
This team has all of a sudden lost its trust in one another. I understand that being the case with the bench and the addition of Evan Turner, but the starters have no excuse.
The core five have been playing together for the better part of two years now and there is no reason for them to fall apart like they have in recent weeks. The rotations on defense are sloppy or nonexistent. The offense is stagnant with little to no ball movement. The effort on 50/50 balls and rebounding simply hasn’t been there either.
We know that George’s efficiency has been down. We know that Roy Hibbert is going through a monster slump. We know the bench hasn’t figured out how to play with each other.
When will it all come back together?
The Pacers have 19 games left until the playoffs start. This week features a trio of Eastern Conference foes who are all under .500. If ever there was a time to get back to dominant basketball, its now.