Pacers Embarrassed, Unprepared on Trip to London

An opportunity, wasted.

Actually, a few opportunities … wasted.

The Indiana Pacers (20-19) woke up Thursday morning in London, England still enjoying a season-high five-game winning streak. They went to sleep Thursday night contemplating how that five-game surge came to a screeching halt.

Indiana looked unprepared, confused and lost in the world of tourism while the Denver Nuggets ran up the scoreboard to the tune of a 140-112 drubbing of the Pacers.

Maybe such an embarrassment relates to the aforementioned tourism as the players, coaches and team members wandered the streets of London, in awe of the scenery, among other things. Paul George took to Instagram to show his approval of Indiana scheduling a regular season game overseas. So did Myles Turner and the team’s social media department. None of this is uncalled for by any means, it is just to imply that the business side of the trip seemed to have been left in the United States.

The photos, documentation and experience of a lifetime make a trip like this worth it for the Pacers. A lopsided loss doesn’t sit well on the long flight home, however.

The first opportunity squandered by Indiana was a chance to extend their winning streak to six games. Furthermore, the possibility existed to expand on the chemistry the team has built in recent weeks, looking more like the Pacers some expected to challenge Toronto and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference.

Opportunity number two was inheriting some international interest and gaining a bundle of English fans. Instead, a herd of them might be thinking twice about who to follow between Indiana and Denver.

No matter, George was busy releasing a pair of Nike shoes and shooting 2-12 from the floor on Thursday evening at O2 Arena. His 10 points combined with Turner’s nine points (4-13 field goals) and Jeff Teague’s six turnovers did not add up to a winning formula.

Much could be blamed for the lethargic effort shown by the Pacers … and team President Larry Bird summed it up bluntly:

“Make any excuse you want but we didn’t show up to play.”

Well said, as always.

The Pacers were outscored 76-47 over the middle two quarters, to sum up the flow of the game. The bench put together a strong performance though, totaling 67 of the Pacers’ 112 points. If it weren’t for poor defense and lackluster outings from most of the starters, the Pacers may have claimed their 21st victory of the season instead of their 19th loss. Unfortunately “if” and “could” have no wiggle room at this point in the season.

Distractions aside, there was basketball to be played and the Nuggets did most of the playing.

A chance for the Pacers to rebound from the ugly side of their trip to London comes Monday night back home against the New Orleans Pelicans, but for now, the Pacers sulk over opportunities wasted.

[Photo: NBAE/Getty]

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