Opinions vary on Pacers' blown leads
By Mike Wells
Posted: November 28, 2008
The explanations for the Indiana Pacers' recent run of blown second-half leads vary widely.
Point guard T.J. Ford said it may be inexperience.
Coach Jim O'Brien said it may be an internal thing the players need to figure out.
Jeff Foster said it's because they get away from the things they did in the first half.
Danny Granger said it's because they need to play from behind most of the game, then make their run.
That was the case Wednesday, when the Pacers came from 13 points down to beat the Rockets on a Granger rebound basket with 13 seconds left.
That won't always be the case for the Pacers. They won't always be able to come back from double-digit deficits, and they prefer to play with a lead as long as they can maintain it.
The Pacers, who host the Charlotte Bobcats tonight at Conseco Fieldhouse, would likely be well over .500 if they could hold off opponents in the final 24 minutes.
The Pacers (6-8) are just 4-6 when leading at halftime.
"It's tough," said Ford, who has been on the bench late in the fourth quarter of their two most recent blown leads. "It's easy to say where the record should be. I think you hear teams say we should have been, but you're not. That's basically what it is. You look at games you should have had, but you can't count them because you didn't get them."
The list of notable blown leads includes 26 points against Philadelphia, 15 points against Miami and 13 points against Dallas earlier this week.
"I think in the fourth quarter, we quit executing offensively and defensively like we had been doing the other three quarters," Foster said. "Guys are tired or the other team steps it up to another level. It's a very disturbing pattern, and one we have to try to correct if we want to get to the playoffs."
Opposing teams have picked up their defensive intensity and don't let the Pacers run the same offensive plays with ease. Also, the Pacers become stagnant on offense and players try to carry the load by themselves, which doesn't work well in O'Brien's passing offense.
O'Brien noted Granger tried to do too much late in Tuesday's loss at Dallas. The coach wants Granger to be a heavy part of the offense late in the game, but O'Brien said his leading scorer has to know when to shoot and when to pass.
"That can't come from me because I'm not on the court," O'Brien said. "We're running the same offense and same defense that we run in the first half. It's really an internal thing, where guys have to get together and decide what their identity is going to be.
"I think we have enough weapons and an interesting offensive style of basketball that a majority of the time will put us in the position to win the game. I believe our guys will learn to win those games."
The Pacers need to fix those problems quickly because the schedule isn't in their favor after tonight.
They play seven consecutive games -- five on the road -- against teams expected to make the playoffs, starting Saturday at Orlando.
"Everybody is still upbeat despite what has happened in those games," Ford said. "We just have to get one of those wins to definitely build our confidence and not have that feeling going into the fourth quarter and start getting tight at the end of games."