Struggling Pacers look to rebound against Knicks
Two nationally televised road games in the past few days turned into clunkers for the Indiana Pacers, and their grip on the third seed in the Eastern Conference no longer is secure.
After double-digit losses in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, the Pacers hope to get back on track Tuesday night when they host the league-worst New York Knicks.
Indiana and Philadelphia share the same 42-25 record but the Pacers lost the head-to-head tiebreaker with the 76ers when they coughed up a 14-point first-half lead and took a 106-89 loss on Sunday afternoon. The loss in Philadelphia occurred three days after the Pacers shot 38.9 percent in a 117-98 loss in Milwaukee.
On Sunday, the Pacers shot 37.3 percent, missed 15 free throws and were outrebounded 52-44. Indiana particularly struggled in the second half by shooting 23.7 percent and getting outscored 55-30.
"If we're the team we think we are, these are the kind of games we've got to win," Indiana center Myles Turner said. "I think we're capable of winning games like this."
Indiana is 10-10 since losing Victor Oladipo to a season-ending right knee injury on Jan. 23 and has lost five of its last seven games as fifth-seeded Boston is starting to get rolling. Those past seven games follow a stretch in which Indiana won eight of nine from Feb. 2-23.
During this slump, the Pacers are averaging 105.1 points, 45.2 shooting percentage and 24.4 assists while allowing 110.6 points.
"We've got to figure out a way to get ourselves back into that Pacer mode, where we're moving the ball, driving, kicking, making plays for each other," Indiana forward Thaddeus Young said. "Right now, we're just out of sync and we just have to get back to it."
The Pacers will hope to get back in sync just in time for what comes after their final meeting with New York. On Thursday the Pacers host Oklahoma City to start a stretch of eight straight games against teams currently in the top eight of their conferences.
New York heads to Indiana on a six-game losing streak after starting a three-game road trip with a 103-92 loss at Minnesota on Sunday. The Knicks are on their fourth skid of at least six games.
New York also has scored less than 100 points in three straight games and in 11 of its last 21 games. The Knicks also dropped to 0-20 when scoring less than 100 points after shooting 43 percent and committing 17 turnovers Sunday.
Damyean Dotson scored 26 points but most of New York's struggles were around the rim and in the paint. The Knicks were 20-for-48 in the paint and were 17-for-36 on layups and dunks.
"We missed a lot of easy shots around the rim," Knicks coach David Fizdale said. "That really, really hurt us, especially on the road."
Indiana won the first three meetings with the Knicks when Oladipo averaged 25 points and the Pacers are attempting to sweep the season series third time in the last five seasons. The Pacers also are 12-1 in the last 13 home meetings.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 11, 2019