Indy Drops Tight Game to San Antonio
Al Jefferson and the Indiana Pacers nearly ended their three-game skid in emphatic fashion, but they fell just short of knocking off the San Antonio Spurs Monday night.
No. 7 did a little bit of everything, filling every column on the stat sheet, but it wasn’t quite enough in Indy’s 110-106 defeat.
Pacers head coach Nate McMillan preached the need for his team to start the game as the aggressors, and he was rewarded with a 28-20 lead with 1:47 left in the first. The Spurs scored the next six points but Monta Ellis’ buzzer-beating three gave Indiana a five-point lead after one.
Indiana led by as many as eight in the second, but the Spurs continued to chip away, outscoring the Pacers 23-18 in the quarter to tie the game going into the locker room.
The teams battled back and forth in the third with seven ties and eight lead changes, but the Spurs went on an 11-0 run with 3:06 to go in the quarter that gave them a nine-point lead with 1:23 left. The Pacers were up to the challenge, responding by outscoring the Spurs 7-2 over the remainder of the third.
That run extended to 14-3 to start the fourth and saw the Pacers take a three-point lead early in the quarter on a layup by Big Al.
Indiana still led by three with 4:07 to play, but San Antonio scored six straight on the strength of Kawhi Leonard to go up by three with 2:56 remaining.
Untimely misses and turnovers plagued the Pacers in the final two minutes, however. With a chance to tie the game with 1:55 left, Monta Ellis missed a short jump shot. Indiana had a chance to get within one possession again with 26 seconds left, but Paul George turned the ball over and the Pacers were forced to foul to stop the clock.
“They did what good teams do, they made plays down the stretch,” said McMillan. “I thought we rushed a little bit in the fourth quarter. You have to execute and make plays.”
Al totaled just three points, but his impact was felt in other areas. The Professor finished with three assists, three rebounds, a steal and a block in 14 minutes for a plus/minus of plus-10.
The Pacers final week before the All-Star break continues on Wednesday with a rematch with the Cleveland Cavaliers, this time in Cleveland. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. EST.