After a successful three-game road trip, the Indiana Pacers had a chance to further the momentum they had established. Instead, they fell short in their 120-112 overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Entering this matchup, the Pacers faced a real need to put together a strong offensive performance to help establish some consistency. Indiana failed to do so and was flat coming out of the gate and couldn't get into much of a rhythm until the fourth quarter.
Not having Doug McDermott in the lineup due to a knee injury caused the Pacers to have to change up the starting lineup. TJ McConnell started alongside Malcolm Brogdon in the backcourt as a result. Meanwhile, a bench group thin on depth only worsened.
Neither team was able to get into much of an offensive rhythm early in this game but the Bulls were slightly better. Through the initial three quarters of this game, Indiana scored just 70 points and shot 25-of-58 (43.1%) from the field and 5-of-22 (22.7%) on three-pointers with 14 turnovers.
Things changed for the Pacers in the fourth quarter and it was the only frame they managed to outscore the Bulls. Indiana put 35 points on the board during this period alone.
The Pacers trailed by as many as 11 points early in the fourth quarter. When TJ McConnell converted on a fallaway jumper from 11-feet out at the 6:28 mark, Indiana managed to produce a 90-90 tie on the scoreboard.
Both teams traded blows throughout clutch time and using Brogdon's putback with just 10.8 seconds left in regulation, the Pacers scraped by to force overtime despite their prior shortcomings.
There was a substantial disparity in offensive execution in favor of the Bulls in overtime. In fact, Chicago's 15 points was more than double what the Pacers managed to put on the board. Producing flat offensive results in the frame aligned with the theme of the night.
"I thought we missed some shots that we normally make to start the overtime period," Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said. "I thought we had some good looks. I thought that was probably the theme of the entire night. There was a lot of shots we wish we could have got back. We'll make more of them next time."
It's not often a team is going to win when they shoot 27.3% from the perimeter and record 19 turnovers. That proved to be the case for the Pacers in this game. It's clear, Indiana's offensive execution needs to improve substantially in order to win consistently.
There was continued failure from Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon to execute offensively with much efficiency. These two players are the leaders of the offense and when they aren't clicking overall, it's going to be a tough night.
Sabonis finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and four blocks. That may looked favorable on the surface, but he did so while finishing 7-of-19 (36.8%) from the field with eight turnovers.
"He's been great all year...Guys are going to have some tougher games and some shots they want to get back," Bjorkgren said about Sabonis. "I liked his shots, I did...I would take those finishes he was trying to get."
The same can be said about Brogdon. He recorded 23 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists but did so while going 10-of-25 (40.0%) from the field and 1-of-7 (14.3%) from beyond the arc.
It certainly didn't help that players like Justin Holiday and Myles Turner were struggling to convert from the perimeter. Both players finished a combined 5-of-18 (27.8%) from the perimeter and accounted for over half of the team's attempts.
There were a variety of key advantages that helped the Bulls to achieve the victory. Chicago outscored the Pacers by 12 in perimeter shooting, 10 in second-chance points, seven in points off turnovers, and 21 in bench points. All of those certainly added up in the end.
The Pacers will return to action on Wednesday when they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves.