Slow starts are too much for Pacers to overcome
The Indiana Pacers' list of problems this season is endless.
They've had injuries and been inconsistent. Much too often they've been one-dimensional on offense.
Their inability to get off to a good start also hasn't helped.
The Pacers have rarely landed the first punch. They are 9-27 when they trail after the first 12 minutes. They've given up at least 30 points in the quarter 24 times.
They'll try to get off to a quick start tonight and finish 2-2 on their four-game trip when they take on the Chicago Bulls.
The Pacers know the numbers. They just can't explain them.
"I don't know, to tell you the truth," swingman Brandon Rush said. "You can't pinpoint one thing. We don't push the ball enough. That's one thing."
"I'm not sure if there is one exact reason," center Roy Hibbert said.
The Pacers typically fall behind by double figures early. They have one or two runs to get back into the game before running out of energy.
"It probably starts with not really being ready to play," Pacers veteran Mike Dunleavy said. "We're not coming out hitting first. It seems like we're always taking the first blow and then working our way back in it. It's something we need to get better at."
Saturday, they trailed Houston by just three after a quarter and won.
Coach Jim O'Brien goes back to his notion that the Pacers are a better team when they use their "small lineup," with Hibbert or Troy Murphy on the floor, but not both.
"We have struggled with the big lineups at times," O'Brien said. "I know that's the lineup that we won at Houston with, because it was our best lineup coming down the stretch. But when we get off to a tough start, we end up going small and a lot of times we come back with the small lineup."
O'Brien likely will stick with the big lineup because he wants Murphy for his shooting and Hibbert needs to continue his development.
"We space the court, we have more mobility and we're a better transition defensive team when we're small," O'Brien said. "Danny (Granger) is as good of a defensive player that we have at guarding the (Dirk) Nowitzkis and (David) Wests of the league. I know for a fact that we're a better defensive team when we're small."