The Pacers hosted the Sacrament Kings on Friday night, who were nearing the end of their five game road trip. Most fans were counting on a victory tonight, and maybe a couple of losses by the Bobcats and Bucks, who were facing the Celtics and Knicks. Then, the unimaginable happened.
The Pacers got crushed by Sacramento in every phase of the game in front of their home crowd. As if that weren't enough, the Charlotte Bobcats somehow pulled out a two-point victory in Boston, and the Milwaukee Bucks went into the Garden and handed the Knicks another loss.
What was once looking like a nice four-game cushion entering the final handful of games, has now turned into what might be a photo finish for the last playoff spot in the East.
I just don't know what to think about these three games tonight. How is it that the Pacers can get crushed by the Kings at home, and the Bobcats and Bucks can win on the road against two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference?
The final score of 110-93 is actually how most of the game went. The second half was pretty much even throughout, but the Pacers trailed by four at the end of the first quarter, and the Kings simply handed it to them in the second quarter, outscoring them by 14 points in that quarter, taking an 18 point lead into halftime.
Even though Danny Granger finished with 20 points and Paul George added 12 points and eight rebounds, there were really no bright spots in this game for Indiana. The Kings are not only one of the worst road teams in the league, but they are one of the worst teams in the league, period. To be factually correct, the Kings are the fourth worst team in the league if you go by the standings.
The Pacers shot 35 percent from the field and were just 4-of-25 in 3-point attempts in this game. What should still be a three-game lead (and could possibly have been a four-game lead) is now down to just a two-game advantage for the Pacers over the Bucks and Bobcats. They still own the tie breaker with Charlotte, but still have a game left to play against the Bucks.
Also with the loss, the Pacers have now lost 41 games on the season, mathematically eliminating the chance of them finishing the season above .500. I don't think anyone expected this team to even finish with a .500 record, so that isn't a big deal. What is a big deal is the fact that they are dropping games to teams like Minnesota, Toronto, and Sacramento. If they fumble away this lead and miss the playoffs, there is going to be a lot of moaning and groaning around here for a long time.
Indiana must rebound quickly and forget about this game. They now head up north to Detroit, where they will take on a difficult Pistons team that knows them well. The Pistons would love to take out some of their frustration on this team and hurt their playoff chances.
Luckily for the Pacers, the Bobcats will face the Knicks tomorrow night, and hopefully Amare and Carmelo can finally wake up and get a win. The Bucks too will have a tough game tomorrow night as they face the hottest team in the league, the Chicago Bulls. After that, the Bucks and Bobcats will play each other on Monday night in Charlotte.
Tomorrow night's game at The Palace of Auburn Hills is set to tip at 7:30pm.