'An opportunity lost:' Pacers coach Rick Carlisle uses postgame film session to address issues
INDIANAPOLIS — The game ended at 9:20 p.m.
Heartbroken Pacers fans immediately began making their way toward the exits at Gainbridge Fieldhouse following Indiana's 114-111 loss to Trae Young and the Hawks, and most were still in shock. Atlanta's Kevin Huerter got away with a foul on rookie Chris Duarte's potential game winning layup with 5.6 seconds left, which gave way to Indiana's NBA-high eighth loss of the season by four points or less. No other NBA team has more than four.
That no-call on Duarte’s left-handed layup attempt was undoubtedly the most pivotal play of the game and a hard pill to swallow, so it wasn't a surprise when Pacers coach Rick Carlisle took longer than usual to address the media.
The reporters simply had to wait — until a little while turned into a long while. When Carlisle finally walked through the door of the Collins-Fuson Interview Room, it was 10:06 p.m., 46 minutes after the game had ended.
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"We were just watching some film in there, so that's why I'm late. I apologize for that," Carlisle said.
The Pacers weren't just watching "some film," though, or the play that essentially decided the game. That wouldn't suffice.
"We just watched the whole first half," Carlisle said, noting it was the first time his team had done that all season. "Because the first half set the table for the second half. ... The bottom line is, we gotta have a stronger disposition. We gotta space and move (the ball) better. We gotta do what we can to play to our strengths.
"This was an opportunity lost."
'We shouldn't be in these situations. ... That's not on the refs.'
Carlisle had plenty to say about Huerter's foul on Duarte that wasn't called, calling it “ugly” and “unlucky,” but he refused to label it the main reason his team lost. From his perspective, it's all about effort and "force," and he didn't see enough of either in the first 24 minutes of action Wednesday.
Atlanta had its way in the first half, shooting 10-of-15 from 3 as Indiana often failed to guard the perimeter. Couple that with Young's brilliance as a scorer and distributor and a game that was once tied at 53 with 3:37 left in the second quarter turned out to be a 65-57 Hawks lead at the break.
"I just thought we just didn't play with the kind of force that we need to play with, and after watching a pretty significant chunk of it just now it really backed that up, unfortunately," Carlisle said.
Malcolm Brogdon, who scored a team-high 27 points, echoed his coach's sentiment and had no issue abiding by Carlisle’s plan of watching film right after the game.
Brogdon said it would be "easy to blame the refs" for Wednesday's loss since Duarte was clearly fouled during his potential game-winning layup attempt with 5.6 seconds left, but Brogdon believes that just means his team had more than 47 other minutes to win the game.
"We shouldn't be in these situations, honestly. That's a team we should've beat," Brogdon said. "We shouldn't be at the end of the game trying to make a last-second shot and counting on the refs to blow the whistle, so that's on us. That's not on the refs."
Who should be taking the last shot for the Pacers?
Brogdon's approach sounds good in theory, but in reality, Indiana is bound to have more close games. So even if the Pacers pick up their effort and play hard for the entire contest, the question remains: Who should have the ball when the game is on the line?
"I think when me and Domas are involved in the last couple minutes of the game, the ball is in our hands, I think we'll be more efficient and we can win more games," Brogdon said. "I think we gotta be more focused on getting the ball in the main guys' hands to make good decisions down the stretch but also get stops down the stretch."
Brogdon and Sabonis have been Indiana's most consistent players and tied for the team high with seven points in the fourth quarter Wednesday. Sabonis followed up his historic 25-rebound triple-double in Monday's loss at Minnesota with 22 points and 10 rebounds against the Hawks.
He said his team is "right there" in terms of closing out games, but agreed with Carlisle that Indiana’s start is just as important as its finish.
"He wanted to show us how we came out (in the first half). He wanted to make a point," Sabonis said of the Pacers' postgame film session. "Like Malcolm said, we gotta play consistent and bring the energy every night, especially at home in front of our fans."
Carlisle said his players were very attentive as he addressed their "dispositional and posture problems," and he hopes that whatever caused them was left behind during their late-night film breakdown.
"I don't want to do it (Thursday). I don't want to waste time doing it (Thursday)," Carlisle said. "Time is precious in the NBA. And (Thursday) we're gonna come in, we're gonna have a good lift, we're gonna get taped, we're gonna go out on the court and we're gonna fix some of these problems."