Portland dominated Indiana in the second and third quarters, snapping the Pacers’ three game winning streak in the process.
Once the Portland Trail Blazers got things rolling, it became impossible for the Indiana Pacers to slow them down, resulting in one of the worst beatdowns of the year for the short-handed Pacers. Portland, aided by some ridiculous three point shooting, outscored Indiana 79-43 across the middle two quarters, including 40-16 in the third alone.
Anfernee Simons highlighted the barrage of threes, hitting his first nine attempts to score 27 points as Portland made 20 overall. That alone more or less sums it up but the need to honor both Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter inside allowed the Blazers much easier attempts, though there were definitely stretches where it didn’t seem to matter.
The Pacers, playing their fourth straight game with no starting center, did well to go blow for blow against Portland in the early going as it became clear this was going to require a heavy offensive workload for them to come away with a win. They led 35-34 after one and were in a tied game at 50-50 halfway through the second when a Damian Lillard three put Portland up for good.
The Blazers used a 21-5 run to blow the game wide open, hitting five threes in the stretch while Indiana’s offense hit a wall, shooting 1-9 with a pair of turnovers. They gathered themselves enough to close out the half down 11, then hitting a free throw to start the third after Lillard was called for a technical at the end of the second quarter.
Unfortunately, that was all the motivation Lillard and the Trail Blazers needed, piling on the Pacers in the third quarter. Portland finished with 40, shooting 7-9 from three point range in the quarter. The Pacers, meanwhile, were 0-8, falling behind by 35 at the end of the third and 41 towards the middle of the quarter. The end of the bench, highlighted by six points from Amida Brimah and a flurry of threes from Oshae Brissett and Kelan Martin helped cut that lead in half before the end of the game.
Virtually everything was bad tonight, even when they were keeping pace. The Blazers dominated the glass 57-38, 24 rebounds between Nurkic and Kanter, including 13 of Portland’s 20 offensive rebounds. At the low point of the game, the Pacers had dropped to 40% shooting and 30% from three, while Portland soared, shooting upwards of 65% from three on the night.
Indiana also didn’t find success through their typical avenues, finishing with a slight 15-11 advantage in points off turnovers, barely topping Portland in the paint 48-44, and failing to separate themselves with steals or fast break opportunities, losing the assist battle in the process. By the end of the third, Portland had five double figure scorers, including the three highest totals in the game, vs. just two for the Pacers.
That came from familiar faces in Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert. Brogdon led the charge early, scoring 14 first quarter points, but struggled from around the midway point of the second quarter on, facing issues from a more locked-in Blazers defense. LeVert showed his ability to manufacture points with relative ease, but had just 16 on 7-14 shooting.
Brissett scored 10 in the final six minutes of the fourth to bring his total up to 18 with 10 rebounds, leading a surprisingly high block night with five of Indiana’s 12 as a team. Doug McDermott also finished in double figures with 13, scoring seven to end the third and start the fourth.
Beyond that? Edmond Sumner struggled, scoring just four on 1-6 shooting, ending his night on the bench with five fouls through three quarters. Sumner kind of accentuated a struggle around the rim for the Pacers, which seemed to be a factor right around the same time as all of their missed threes.
This loss wasn’t particularly fun, but it wasn’t particularly surprising either. Given the absences the Pacers are facing, especially at the center position, this was going to be a tough game for them to come away with barring something unforeseen happening in favor of the Pacers. That didn’t happen, so a loss happened in its place.
The uncertainty of availability won’t change that moving forward. The Pacers face a rather balanced schedule of six games against teams behind them in the standings and five games against teams ahead of them, making it rather easy to see where the wins can come from and where the losses will likely be.
That begins with a game on Thursday against the top seeded Brooklyn Nets, wrapping up their season series against a team they may yet face at least four more times after that.