Killer quarter pushes Pacers to brink

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com

VIDEO: Hawks stun Pacers in Indy with Game 5 win

INDIANAPOLIS – Embarrassment hasn’t snapped the Indiana Pacers out of all that’s been ailing them for the past couple of months. Exasperation doesn’t seem capable of getting the job done, either, no matter how often they lose or get booed at home now.

So, it’s on to elimination, to see what effect – if any – that might have.

If the threat of being put out of these 2014 playoffs as soon as Thursday doesn’t grab the Pacers’ attention immediately, if the idea of playing all year for a home-court advantage they might squander in less than two weeks isn’t ominous enough, then we might as well skip the smelling salts and go right to a mirror under their noses.

Indiana flatlined for one gruesome quarter Monday in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round series against Atlanta and it was too, too much to overcome. The Pacers got outscored 41-19 in the second quarter, a franchise-worst for points allowed in a postseason quarter. They got burned for 15 3-pointers, the most ever made by the Hawks in the playoffs – and the most ever given up by Indiana in any postseason game.

And when it was all over, the Hawks – jovial in the Pacers’ once-formidable building, the home team’s unraveling again on lurid display – sent a couple guys named Mike Scott and Shelvin Mack to the interview room.

Drop the mic? Pretty darn close. No. 8 has No. 1 on the brink of its offseason. A frantic, futile rush over the final 15 minutes, during which the Pacers bombed their way to a 40-22 edge without ever getting closer than three possessions, couldn’t make up for that disastrous second quarter.

“For whatever reason, we were on our heels and they were playing at a different level than we were,” forward David West said. “Mike Scott comes out and goes on a 12-0 run by himself. We don’t respond, and they end up with a 40-point quarter.”

Indiana coach Frank Vogel turned to his bench to start the second quarter and his bench turned to stone. The 6-foot-8 Scott, well out of Luis Scola‘s reach or closing speed, drained four 3-pointers on four trips, Kyle Korver hit a pair and Mack had five points during a 25-4 run that took just six minutes. Already caught loitering on offense, in need of some serious movement, Atlanta’s deep blitz made the Pacers look just as planted on the defensive end.

A team that gave up just 92.3 per game in the regular season got torched for 25 in half a quarter. You do the math.

“It’s not just the guys guarding the ball, it’s the guys off the ball,” West said. “Everybody wasn’t engaged when the ball’s going away. A guy’s able to stand out there, get two shots up. We’re watching the guy who’s guarding him, saying, ‘Hey, you do it.’ But we play a five-man defense. Everybody’s responsible for the basketball when they’re on the floor.”

What’s going on in this series is no secret: Atlanta spreads the floor with shooters, including its center Pero Antic, to draw out defenders and open lanes to the basket for, well, pretty much anyone who wants them (Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, Mack). It’s a particularly vexing style for Indiana, since 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert gets drawn away from the rim, forfeiting the shot-blocking and altering he does best.

Then Indiana can’t make the Hawks pay at the other end because Hibbert isn’t a go-to, post-up scorer. His lack of effectiveness and confidence limited him to 12:13, during which he had as many points and rebounds as you and I did combined.

Atlanta had hoisted 124 3-pointers in the first four games, making a mediocre 44 (35.5 percent). They let another 27 fly Monday and hit 15, and sucked everything but the boos out of Bankers Life Fieldhouse when they took 11 and made nine in that doomsday second quarter.

“We’ve been shooting all these threes all series, we just haven’t been making them,” Korver said.

Mack’s 20 were the most he’d ever scored in a playoff game, ditto for Scott’s 17. The Hawks’ bench overall scored 45 points, nearly lapping Indiana’s and showing how comfortable Atlanta has gotten on the Pacers’ court. Role players are supposed to thrive at home in the postseason, right? Indiana lost at Bankers Life Fieldhouse only six times in 41 games over five-and-a-half months. Well, the Hawks now have won there three times in 22 days.

“Obviously they’re not going to want to go home,” Korver said. “We’re going to get a great shot from them. We saw, when their defensive pressure picked up in the second half, they caused a lot of problems for us.

“We’re playing the way that we play, they’re playing the way that they play. Every game has gone back and forth. There hasn’t been a team that’s won two games in a row. We’ve got to try to end that streak.”

And end the Pacers, period.

35 Comments

  1. Unkle Daddy says:

    The Pacers wanted to be the king of the mountain in the east, they got it. Now, everyone is looking to take that spot. I still think they can move on, but whatever it is they lost, they better find it right now. They are lucky Horford is hurt or they would have already been fishin’

  2. Christian says:

    As Paul George pointed out in his interview last night, one of the biggest factors in the Hawks big wins over the Pacers is the fact that the Hawks are constantly getting a ridiculous amount of free throw attempts. If you don’t believe that, just look at the stats! In the three games that the Hawks have won they have shot almost 40 MORE FREE THROWS than the Pacers!!! The Hawks are shooting an average of 12 more free throws per game than the Pacers in their wins??? Sure the Hawks won by 10 last night but they shot 33 free throws in comparison to the Pacers 18. In game three they won by 13, but they shot 37 free throws in comparison to the Pacers 21! Just something to consider.

  3. I do not have a name says:

    Creo que the pacers are done. Its so sad and pathetic that they are losing like this. I am disapointed with both the pacers and the bulls. This whole year has been topsy terby. Hopfully Brooklyn can beat toronto because they are the only team left that can give the heat a fighting chance of jot making finals.
    Now we need either spurs or okc to get to the finals and BEAT THE HEAT

  4. Zac says:

    Vogel is doing a horrible job. Just switch on every pick, have everybody stay with the 3pt-shooters (Atlanta has nothing but 3pt-Shooters anyway). Double millsap in the post as soon as he touches it. Thats all there is to it.

  5. nathaniel easton says:

    Trading Granger did not do nothing, the series is not over yet so calm down people. We will still get to the finals trust me. I know things.

  6. BBOY says:

    Has anyone remembered that in the ’08 playoffs, nearly the exact thing happened between the 1st seed Celtics and 8th seed Hawks. (Celts won game 5, but Hawks still stretched it to game 7). Look what happened then – Celtics advanced and went on to win the chip. Everyone is panicking for no good reason.

    • jOLAN says:

      The Celtics didn’t walk into the playoffs in a horrible slump though. They are one game from elimination and they have lost 2 at home, so even if the pacers do with on the road, it’s not like the hawks can’t win in Indiana.

  7. 7 says:

    Cant believe the pacers are chokin to da atlanta hawks lebrons lovin it

  8. arian says:

    It’s because they broke their chemistry by trading away granger. He was their locker room leader after west and this team was originally built around him, George just took his place. They already changed their entire bench and brought in bynum, but this was too much.

  9. nathaniel easton says:

    Last time I checked Roy Hibbert is consistently getting 20 points 10 rebounds vs the Heat

  10. Antonio Perez says:

    didn’t the pacers sign Andrew Bynum why he’s not playing?

  11. Game Ball says:

    nathaniel easton Really scared??? Haven’t you watch Haslem destroyed hibbert??? In case you miss… Haslem is key…Hibbert had 4 points 1 reb, he played a lot longer that game too. how about Haslem 9 rebs… 5 ORBs 4 DRB… Do the MATH… UD is only 6’8″ while Hibbert 7’2″…. I’m confused with all the Height, he rebound the ball weaker than average point guards…. Total GARBAGE….

  12. cp10 says:

    LOL, great post Steve.

  13. nathaniel easton says:

    Why do we always have Heat references in Pacers blogs, these heat fans are delusional and afraid to play us because they know they will lose.

    • #dwade#flash says:

      Nathaniel i think you need to watch the recent Miami vs Pacers games, NBA teams got Pacers game plans on checked.

  14. nathaniel easton says:

    It is not over yet people, you all will look like fools when we win the next game and there not beating us in a game seven on our home court.

    • jOLAN says:

      Home court doesn’t seem to matter much this series for the pacers. They already gave up two at home.

  15. lol says:

    Roy Hibbert and the rest of the pacers team should be dissmantled and retire after the Hawks finish them off, Vogel should quit coaching and move to Mars, biggest flop in the history of the NBA, IF the 8th seed with atrocious record Hawks team really win this series well.. Pacers players and coaching stuff really should quit bball and move to Mars and beyond.

  16. Game Time says:

    You could solve Indy’s problems in two moves. Completely Bench Lance, and start Watson. Every time I see Stephenson with the ball he goes ISO, and off in the corner is a wide open David West or PG.

    I really don’t care because I’ve been saying all year that this team does not impress me the way people talk about them. George is overhyped (but still a good talent that is developing), and Hibbert is too weak to be that big and not dominating night in and out. Like someone else said. Indy loses this series and there’s no coming back next seasons to make title runs.

  17. TheKush says:

    I think the Pacers are playing this series all wrong! The Hawks are playing the Pacers the way Miami would play the Pacers. Yet Vogel is playing the Pacers small. What made the Heat Pacers series so interesting was because the Pacers played big the whole game. What I see is a confused coach whose messing up his rotation to match the other team and that’s not the Pacers ball I’m used too seeing. That said I’m no expert but I still see Stevenson as the problem. Hibbert is uncomfortable, George is uncomfortable and for the first time David West looks unsure of himself.

    To make matters worse Hill at the point guard spot has been a complete disaster. If you’re going to make changes take out Stevenson and TRAP jEFF TEAGUE he’s disrespecting the Pacers offense the most. Jeff is making the Pacer guards look like children the Pacers have no answer for him. When the pacers had success they slowed the game down and took the ball out of Teagues hands but in order for them to do that the Pacers need to PLAY DEFENSE THE ENTIRE GAME! not just in the second half like they been doing throughout the regular season pacing themselves as if they were the Miami heat.

    Pacers want a half court game but they can’t execute it without Hibbert and playing DEFENSE I think Vogel is benching Hibbert too soon. He needs to ride him out and throw him the ball until he gets comfortable because forget Miami if the Pacers made it to the finals whatever west coast team they’d play would eat them alive if they play like this. I’m no expert but this too me looks like BAD COACHING!!!

  18. oracle1332 says:

    The Pacers are an organic team that been building their chemistry and style for the last 4 years or so. They broke out last year and had an incredible season and playoff run. They’ve built on that this year and played another excellent season.

    And now with the first sign of trouble in the playoffs – something that even the best teams have to expect to happen to them, because it’s the freaking playoffs and the pressure is intense – the fans have decided that they hate their team and they’re justified in heckling players mid-game.

    Disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful. This spoilt fool heckling Paul George has become so accustomed to success (after, wait, 1 year???!?!?!??!) that he thinks he’s got the right to heckle PG during a bad stretch. OUTRAGEOUS!!! Get this guy banned. Get all the Pacers fans in the building that night on the ban list and get the real fans in. My God

  19. theholyspectator says:

    pacers are the biggest flop of the nba history…this team is done..i cant believe atlanta is actually in a position to close these guys out in atlanta in game 6. lol wow. and to think the pacers were actually having legit hopes of being in the finals? lol right..

  20. Latigo Spurs Rapper says:

    don’t look past any opponent….

  21. Kirkburger says:

    It’s starting to make me frustrated that no one is giving the Hawks credit. It’s always that the Pacers lost, not that the Hawks won. The Hawks have played relatively well in this series, no one has handed them the victories, they have had to go out there and earn it. You don’t win a playoff series unless you deserve it is all I’m saying, give the Hawks some credit.

  22. erik spoelstra says:

    larry bird built his team solely to beat the heat..
    now the flaws are starting to emerge..

    and im telling you all now..
    much like the stacked bulls a few years ago..
    if the pacers dont win this year, they are never gonna have another chance for the title shot..

  23. squala96 says:

    The best team in the East is set to lose to one that doesn’t even have a winning record this season (should have been Phoenix Suns’ spot). This is just a horrible thing. At the start, the Pacers seem to be the undisputed favorite for the crown, and I thought that all those losses after the All-Star break are just a form of hoarding to save their strength for the playoffs. But Indiana really did lose their steam. They played so hard at the beginning there’s nothing left in the tank. What was once a genuine display of teamwork is now less so. The chemistry is just not what it used to be. It looks like a fourth straight final for Miami then.

  24. Pepe says:

    Pacers are done. Roy Hibbert, an all-star, had 0 pts and 0 rebs. Really?? Just one of the reasons that they will not win. They are done. Hawks will advance to the next round.

  25. Farmer Johnson says:

    Just goes to show how much the game has changed today .. Skill & brains beats strength & toughness

  26. Snickers says:

    The Pacers will make history if they lose. One of the biggest upsets of all time. I would really love to see Hawks win (which means Miami have a better chance)

    • John says:

      I wouldn’t say it’s easier for the heat to they split their regular season series with the hawks who were decimated by injuries but are healthy now with the exeption of al horford.

      • Miami says:

        Really? Miami didn’t even play with D.Wade in the first 3 games against the Hawks and we went 2-1 against the Hawks. The last game D. Wade was coming off an injury and scored 24 points via 3 quarters and sat in the 4 quarter. Yes the Hawks missed Paul Millsap and Lou Williams in their first match-up, but they had everyone, including Al Horford, in the 2nd match-up and loss in OT. Don’t look at the regular season and think that just because you had some success against them that you can beat them in a playoff series. The Bull and Celtics in the 2010-11 regular season, with a healthy D.Rose, beat the Heat 3-0 and 3-1, but the Heat beat both of those teams in 5 games in the playoffs. Before even comparing the Hawks to the Heat anyway, lets see if the Hawks and Heat make it to the Conference finals.

  27. jdub455 says:

    Wooppss… just too much focused on Miami during the season kinda showed what the Pacers still lack… Mental toughness…