The Indiana Pacers weren’t equipped to stop the Golden State Warriors, either.
Mission Impossible in four minutes and 42 seconds.
That’s how much time it took the defending NBA champions, who arrived in Indianapolis Tuesday night with an unprecedented 22-0 record, to go on an apropos 22-0 run in the first quarter — yes, in the first quarter — of a 131-123 triumph at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
It wasn’t close. The Pacers enjoyed a 40-20 fourth quarter to make the final score look respectable. But the Warriors led by as many as 32 in the final minute of the third quarter to assure themselves of win No. 23.
“We just gave up points way too fast,” Pacers All-Star forward Paul George said in perhaps the understatement of the evening.
Points were espeicially given to a shooter who knows how to annihilate Indiana.
Thompson finished with a game-high 39 points, including 10-of-14 from beyond the arc. The 10 3-pointers are the most ever allowed in Pacers history. But this same guy scored 40 and 39 points in wins against Indiana last season.
“It’s a great feeling,” Thompson said. “I felt like I was due for a game like that.”
Sure, just a coincidence. These Indiana guys have a nasty habit of getting in Klay’s way. Well, not enough it seems. Thompson did sprain his right ankle late, which shows he’s mortal, but sounded upbeat about not missing much time, if any.
The Pacers had scored 60 points by intermission, yet trailed by 19. The Warriors’ 131 points were the most Indiana has allowed since 2010.
“If you’re not scoring against this team,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel, “you don’t have a chance.”
The Warriors set another league mark with their 13th consecutive road triumph to start a season. Golden State’s overall regular-season winning streak is 27, which ties the 2012-13 Miami Heat for second-longest winning streak in league history. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers hold that distinction at 33 consecutive regular-season victories.
“I don’t think there's pressure,” Warriors interim coach Luke Walton said. “Our guys are having fun.”
The Pacers, energized by an excited sellout crowd of 18,165, led 21-15 in the opening quarter. Then everything unraveled. Quickly. The home team missed nine field-goal attempts, two foul shots and committed two turnovers while the Warriors were going off for 22 consecutive points. Thompson and Curry each scored eight points in the run.
“It was unbelievable,” Curry said of Thompson. “You could see the look in his eyes. When he has that look, he is going to have his confidence all night.”
Curry contributed his share, too. He had “just” 29. So the Pacers "held" him under his season average, which decreased slightly to 32.2. He missed 8-of-11 3-pointers, which qualifies as an off night. Curry also assisted on 10 baskets for his third double-double of the season.
Neither the Pacers’ Monta Ellis nor George Hill could account for Thompson. George had trouble defending him, too. And on the possessions when Indiana managed to defend the 3-point line — which wasn’t often enough — the visitors were unselfish in passing inside for easy dunks. Center Andrew Bogut began the third quarter with three dunks.
The Warriors’ 16 3-pointers also set a dubious Pacers record, tying for the most ever made against Indiana.
The Pacers (12-8) have lost three in a row for the second time this season. They began the season 0-3, won 12 of 14 to garner attention as the NBA’s early surprise team, but dropped the last two games of their 2-2 West coast road trip before coming home to face the hottest basketball team on the planet.
In each of the three losses, the Pacers allowed 120 points or more. That’s atypical for a team that, even after this blitzkrieg, allows 99.8 per game. Indiana entered ranked ninth in scoring defense, then exited 13th.
That’s what happens when facing the Warriors, who lead the league in scoring, shooting, 3-point shooting, offensive efficiency and so on and so forth. The Pacers have bumped up their scoring average to 104.3, which ranks fifth. But Golden State improved its scoring average to 115.8.
Yeah, good luck with that.
“That’s why they’re 23-0,” Vogel said. “They’re terrific in a lot of areas with just a flammable offense.”
Take away the dynamic duo combining to make 24-of-44 shots for 68 points and there was still Bogut with 14, Brandon Rush with 13 and reserve Festus Ezeli with 12. The rest of the Warriors shot 28-of-51 (54.9 percent).
“The biggest thing is when they go on runs, they go on runs with threes and that really starts to add up,” said Pacers forward C.J. Miles, who hit five himself in a 24-point effort.
George led his team with 33 points, the ninth time he’s had 30 or more this season. But it wasn’t nearly enough. Ellis was particularly disappointing against his former team with just nine points and six turnovers.
Indiana’s late push got the crowd into it. A 23-8 surge forced Curry and Thompson to return. That's when Thompson rolled his ankle underneath. The Pacers trailed just 129-123 with 24.8 seconds remaining before Curry sank one foul shot, then Ellis threw the ball away and George missed a 3-pointer.
“That team never quits,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said of the Pacers. "They showed that. That is in their DNA.”
As for the Warriors’ DNA, feel free to use any superlative. So far, they all apply.
“We all know we’re going to lose,” Walton said. “When that is, we don’t know.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.