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Pacers fade down the stretch against the Bucks

The Indiana Pacers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, 94-90, in a game they really should have won.

There really isn’t a nice way to say it — they choked.  After scoring 60 points in the first half to take an 8 point lead, the Pacers couldn’t make a basket in the second half, spluttering down the stretch as the Bucks, who weren’t shooting well either, came all the way back to take the lead in the fourth.

The loss is disappointing because it was a good chance for the Pacers to bounce back after a horrendous loss to the 76ers, especially as the Bucks were without Andrew Bogut (migraine), a player with a great track record against the Pacers.

Collison and Granger had 19 apiece, and Hibbert had another strong outing with 14 points, 12 boards, 4 assists and 6 blocks, but turnovers and poor, indecisive shot choice cost the Pacers in the end.  As a team, they had 19 turnovers, the main culprits being Granger (7) and Hibbert (6).

To me, this game demonstrated four things very clearly.

1. Despite their 2-1 start (now 2-3), the Pacers are going to struggle a lot this season.  The upcoming stretch is key because if they start piling up the losses, we might see a replay of last year, where they simply fell apart and never got back into the playoff race.

2. The margin of error this season is very small.  The Pacers need to play consistently in all facets of the game to have a chance to win every time they play, no matter how poor the opposition.

3. Collison is still uncomfortable running the point in O’Brien’s system.  Is it just me or do all PGs seem to struggle with O’Brien’s system?  He only had 2 assists last game and is averaging 4.4 for the season.  Last season he averaged 5.6 playing 1.5 minutes less per game.

4. The Pacers are still missing that big time shot maker, that guy the team can count on to make a basket when they truly need it.  Hibbert has the heart but he is not quite there offensively.  Granger should be the guy and has hit some big shots in the past, but so far this season he doesn’t appear to have that killer instinct when the game is on the line.  Collison could very well be that guy, but O’Brien keeps going with Ford in the fourth.

Next up, a rough one against the Denver Nuggets at home.