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Trail Blazers Fall to Pacers: 6 Observations of Defeat against Indiana

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The Portland Trail Blazers were unable to overcome the Indiana Pacers’ last-minute offense as they lost 108-99 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The Blazers and Pacers fought an ugly game that saw neither team shoot efficiently all night.

If you missed the game, you can catch up on our quarter-by-quarter recap here. After reading this, here are six observations from tonight’s loss.

turnover problems

The Blazers turned the ball over five times in the first quarter and followed that up with another six in the next frame. They finished with 18 for the game, and the Pacers made the most of those chances. 29 points on turnovers for the Pacers helped them mitigate a poor shooting night with easy transition chances. The Blazers’ sloppy play plagued them all night and seemed to take the wind out of the sails of a team that needed a spark. The inability to build momentum late in the game ultimately took a toll on the Blazers, and turnovers throughout the contest did nothing to remedy that.

Bank problems continue

The Blazers starters put up numbers once again. With all five scoring at least 12 points and amassing 80 between them, the Blazers got plenty of good minutes out of their starters. However, the league’s lowest-scoring bench with more than two points a game contributed just 19 points in the loss, with eleven of those by Jabari Walker alone. Walker was a bright spot to his credit. He had career-high points and grabbed six rebounds in just 14 minutes. In addition to Walker, the bench trio of Keon Johnson, Drew Eubanks and Shaedon Sharpe had just eight points in 41 minutes of total time between them. The Blazers need consistent good minutes off their bench if they are to weather the storm when their starters are ousted, and so far this season, they haven’t gotten that.

jabari walker

Despite a low-scoring effort from the bench, Walker had arguably the best game of his young career, eleven points and six rebounds. But the numbers don’t tell the whole performance story.

Of his six boards, four of his rebounds were on the offensive glass and he added a steal and an assist. He also played with too much energy. He played like a guy who has nothing to lose and he’s playing with the house money. The penultimate pick in this season’s draft has cemented a spot in the rotation of a playoff hopeful in Portland through hard work and doing the dirty work. He has been a player to watch so far this season and has shown exactly why he is an intriguing player in the rest of this Blazers season.

could not close

The main difference between the 19-19 Blazers and the 10-3 Blazers from earlier in the season is their ability to end games.

Early in the season, the Blazers dominated the clutch. They have won several games with winning shots at the end of the clock or buzzers. Recently, Blazers don’t look the same anymore. In this game alone, they missed their last 13 field goal attempts and lost a 9-0 run to the Pacers after tying it late in the fourth quarter. With top-notch pitch creators like Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons and Jerami Grant, it’s intriguing to see. The inability to win close late games has been a major factor in the Blazers’ 9-16 record since their hot start, and it hurt them again tonight.

Aggressive on the boards

The Blazers dominated in the glass despite losing effort. They outscored the Pacers 52-41 and had 12 offensive rebounds included in that total. That rebounding discrepancy kept the Blazers close for most of the game, despite shooting just 40 percent from the field and 27 percent from deep. Jusuf Nurkic and Josh Hart did most of the heavy lifting in that total with 19 and 10 rebounds respectively. The two kept the Pacers out of the offensive glass for most of the game, severely limiting their second-chance opportunities.

The Blazers had twelve offensive boards while limiting the Pacers to just four. This led to a 16-4 gap in second chance points, a category a poor Blazers squad needed to win. It didn’t end in victory, but the amount of extra opportunities created kept the Blazers in the game longer than they should have.

foul shooters

The Blazers have committed fewer fouls than the Pacers in this contest, having just 19 to the Pacers’ 22. However, you could easily think differently just by looking at free throw numbers. The Pacers made eleven more free throws than the Blazers, which led to eleven more points from the line. In a game decided by only nine points, this discrepancy could have made the difference. Free-kick shooters more than just normal open-court fouls hurt the Blazers in this contest and led to another game where they made fewer free throws than their opponent. No significant foul issues by any Blazers is a nice change of pace, but fouls that have crippled the Blazers for a second straight game hurts to see.

Next

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The Blazers are back in action for the final game of their three-game trip to Toronto for a 12:30 pm game on Sunday.