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Pacers players hold locker room meeting after getting crushed by Rockets

Mar 8, 2014, 9:30 AM EST

Indiana Pacers v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

Even after three straight losses, the Indiana Pacers remain the team with the league’s best record, though they’re now tied with Oklahoma City for that honor while sitting at 46-16 in the standings.

But the last two losses have been troubling.

On Wednesday, Indiana lost by 22 points to a Bobcats team that is five games under .500, and managed to hold Paul George to just two points in 34 minutes on 0-of-9 shooting.

Friday night in Houston, the Pacers held it together for a half before being run out of the gym in a third quarter which saw them outscored 38-16, and turned the final period into nothing more than extended garbage time.

This sequence of events caused the players inside the visitors locker room in Houston to take stock of the situation following the 26-point loss.

From Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:

It started with Paul George and David West, two of the Indiana Pacers’ veteran leaders, crowding inside the small visiting coach’s locker room.

With their ankles still taped and their uniforms still on, there was an impromptu meeting taking place with hushed tones and grim faces. Sitting with his shoulder in ice at his locker, George Hill noticed and went over and slipped into the room. Then Roy Hibbert got up from his seat and stuck his head in.

Ten minutes passed, then 15. The team with the NBA’s best record is in its first legitimate funk of the year and it’s shaking the players up.

Losing to Houston on the road is nothing to be ashamed of, considering they’ve been hot lately and have the league’s best record since the first of the year. But for a team with championship aspirations, consecutive blowout losses, no matter the circumstances, is definitely cause for concern.

Indiana leads the league in defensive efficiency, but has seen its offense slip in recent weeks, dropping to a level below the league average. It’s tough to bring the intensity on the defensive end every single night like that, especially during the long grind of the regular season, and especially when the Pacers are no longer sneaking up on their opponents.

“Every team we play is playing above themselves,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. “Our guys can talk about being the hunted but it’s a different thing to feel it. These teams are coming at us with great force and we’re going to have to rise to the challenge.”

  1. simonwelds - Mar 8, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    Welcome to the “grind”…. Miami has been the hunted for 4 years, its a different feeling when every team in the league circles you on their calendar.. The Pacers will fold again to the Heat in the conference finals.

  2. jbeagles23 - Mar 8, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    Once said all season if Indiana wins the east re season than the conference finals go to seven. If the heat have a better record the conference finals won’t go past five.

  3. davidly - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    They don’t look so good, but last season they only had a total of three more wins than they do right now, and they took the Heat to seven. And it’s not like Miami wasn’t ready for them since they took them to six the season before.

    I agree with the Heat fans: the regular season doesn’t matter.

    • kinggw - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      That’s some interesting logic. They aren’t playing well, but it’s ok because they have a better regular season record than they did last year when they took the Heat to 7 games.

      The regular season doesn’t matter when a sub .500 team beats one of the elite teams. The results of one or two head to head matchups during the regular season don’t matter because its not indicative of how a playoff series will transpire. In the grand scheme of things last nights game wasn’t terribly important considering the Pacers waxed Houston a few months back.

      The regular season matters when your team has made it their very public goal of securing the number one seed because they think that was the only thing that kept them from the Finals. For teams like the Spurs and Heat who are battle tested its not as big a deal. They would love to have that top seed, they don’t necessarily need it.

      As good as the Pacers are, they aren’t yet on the level of the Heat or Spurs. They need that top seed for their confidence as much as the actual home court advantage. For the Pacers, the regular season still matters.

      • davidly - Mar 8, 2014 at 2:26 PM

        I agree that going public with their homecourt-goal feeds inference of potential confidence problems if it comes to another game 7 on the road, but that’s just from the outside observer, not the guys who play the games.

        As far as their not being on the same level, it depends on how you look at it. Once the playoffs start, the Heat have to win three series to re-establish themselves as being a level above — unless they’re comfortable relying on props in the PBT comments section.

    • antistratfordian - Mar 8, 2014 at 5:24 PM

      Records really have no bearing on how a series will go. An 8th seed can take a 60 win team to 7 games. It’s about the match-ups. The Pacers just don’t have the talent to beat Miami in a series – I think we just saw Paul George talking about that the other day.

      The Heat, btw, weren’t treating the Pacers last year like they were a 60 win team, because they weren’t. They overlooked them a little bit. It shouldn’t happen this year. But, if I’m being honest, I’m not sure the Pacers will make it all the way to Miami this year.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Mar 8, 2014 at 5:49 PM

        Who, in the east, can beat the Pacers besides Miami? The Nets maaaaybe if they get on a roll but as it stands they’ll play Miami in round 2.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 8, 2014 at 5:54 PM

        Atlanta, Charlotte, Brooklyn, Washington…

        It wouldn’t be unheard of. Their offense is so feeble – they might not lose the series but they’re going to lose more games than they should against any of these teams.

  4. k3nn3k - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    Looks like Danny Granger was more important than they thought! You can’t trade locker room leadership.

  5. azarkhan - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Maybe Paul George needs to have that mentoring session with LeBron asap.

  6. mrlitl - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Not a Heat fan, but I don’t see Indiana getting past them in the playoffs.

  7. sportsfan18 - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    It isn’t the best right now for Indiana… but the season isn’t over right now.

    If they turn it around and begin pouring it on by the time the playoffs begin, this will all be forgotten.

    This little stretch right here means nothing as it relates to how the playoffs go. It’s what happens as the season is winding down and the playoffs begin…

  8. pukpokito - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    Has Danny Granger felt the pressure of losing his older Brother Granger and maybe hitting him that he is really the Man now for the Pacers? or maybe he is just tired.
    Either way, it is not easy being the hunted now rather than being the hunter is it? They are now the Target.
    I am interested to see what NBA Finals will look like if it is the Pacers vs the Thunder. That intrigues me a lot.Depth-wise? maybe vs the Clippers but talent of KD and his Thunder vs the Pacers?intriguing.

  9. bucrightoff - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    The good news for the Pacers is they still matchup well with Miami. The bad news is they don’t match up well with any of the best in the West.

  10. pfic15 - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    Not built to overcome deficits. Sorry Pacers. See you in the ECF…that’s it.

  11. velocirep - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    This adversity is only a help to Indiana. You can’t get better without these challenges.
    Negatively though, Danny granger is a guy you want in that locker room to help them over this hump, he’s a born leader. Somebody needs to slap Lance upside the head for dancing like an idiot before getting back on D.

    Reggie Miller got it right “don’t ever mess with chemistry if you don’t have to.”

  12. chiadam - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Every team they’ve met is playing above themselves? What a pitiful and arrogant statement.
    Teams aren’t getting up to face the Pacers. The Pacers are just playing like crap.

  13. prareedoggin - Mar 8, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    “Every team we play is playing above themselves,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. “Our guys can talk about being the hunted but it’s a different thing to feel it. These teams are coming at us with great force and we’re going to have to rise to the challenge.”

    Ummmmmm what?!?! No buddy! That’s the heat that get played against like that, quit trying to make it seem like your a back to back champ and the whole league is trying to dethrone you and your poor little team is being picked on too much

  14. stayhigh_247 - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    You can’t coast and start believing your own hype. To be the best you have to go out every night with the intent to kill and maim who ever’s on the floor. They have no need to panic, when they look around that locker room they have more than enough to win with, when they look at the schedule games like Houston should be extra motivation because if you don’t bring it, you’re gonna get that ass housed.

  15. csbanter - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    The Pacers should not have let Tyler Hansbrough go, he did a lot of the dirty work and they miss that. The guys they brought in Scola, Copeland don’t do that. Will Andrew Bynum ever play ?

    • tfoz5150 - Mar 8, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      No

  16. antistratfordian - Mar 8, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    Pacers fans thought the title was won by hot starts.

    • davidly - Mar 8, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      You’re trolling and strawmanning again. Nobody on Bob’s green earth thought that. Funny how you steer clear of every thread that has anything to do with a Heat loss, but troll the Pacer boards with consistency.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 8, 2014 at 9:30 PM

        Heat losses are insignificant – they’ve more than proven themselves – it’s not worth the trouble to deal with all the lemon harangue from haters.

        But… you’ve been keeping mental track of my whereabouts? I’m flattered. High five!

    • davidly - Mar 9, 2014 at 6:28 AM

      Keeping track. You spend your time following people around and trolling them. To the extent that I notice comment notifications, yeah, sure, I’m keeping track. Dope.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 9, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        You said I don’t comment on Heat articles when they lose, which is true… but there is only one way for you to end up thinking that, and it has nothing to do with comment notifications. You’re expecting to see me in places and noticing when I’m not.

        It seems I have a new fan.

    • davidly - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      Nice limited hangout. Reeks of desperation.

  17. bballhistorian - Mar 8, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    Too young to win it all.

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