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Paul George says Pacers second-half collapse because they lost their hunger

Jul 21, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Game 5 Getty Images

All sorts of rumors swirled around the Indiana Pacers as they went from the team with the best record in the NBA to a team that stumbled into the playoffs and never really was a threat to the Miami Heat in the East. There were a lot of rumors about personal and clubhouse turmoil among Pacers players (the most extreme ones likely false).

Paul George said it was something far more simple — the Pacers got comfortable and lost their edge.

George, a Southern California native, was back in town for his youth camp and spoke with the Los Angeles Daily News. First the article had to focus on the ridiculous premise in some Lakers’ fans’ heads that George was going to turn down a max extension to his rookie contract to come to the Lakers (he didn’t), but eventually the article gets to the more interesting topic of the Pacers’ last season.

“Before we were hungry,” he said. “We started the year off hungry, the bad taste from the year before was in our mouths and everyone was on a mission. Once we started to win, the game was coming too easy. We were running away from our opponents and we just kind of forgot that edge….

“It was a point where we came into games thinking we could just turn it on, regardless if we started bad or not. And I think that kind of put us in a funk to where teams were starting to really play us and get ready for us,” he said.

“We weren’t the team chasing opponents. We were being chased and we couldn’t find that balance between getting that edge back we started the season with.”

Of course, George thinks the Pacers can regain their form and be a threat next season in the East.

That’s going to be more difficult to do without Lance Stephenson and his shot creation, but the Pacers are still in the mix with the Hawks, Heat, Wizards, Raptors, and maybe Hornets and Knicks in the middle of the Eastern Conference (all likely chasing the Bulls and Cavaliers). If the Pacers can get their defense back to form they can win a lot of games.

But they’ve got to get their heads screwed back on first, get past the locker room squabbles and issues with playing with a target on their backs.

  1. bigmeechy74 - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    That headline is painful to read

    • hwatt - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:46 PM

      my head asplode

    • 4thquartermagic - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:51 PM

      Sounded like the premise of Snickers commercial….

    • loyalraven - Jul 21, 2014 at 7:01 PM

      Champions don’t lose their hunger – that’s a fact, which is kind of ironic because Indiana is mostly fat and morbidly obese…

      • bball242322 - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        LOL you’re a moron

  2. bigbenh8tr - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    but the Pacers are still in the mix with the Hawks, Heat, Wizards, Raptors, and maybe Hornets and Knicks in the middle of the Eastern Conference (all likely chasing the Bulls and Cavaliers)
    Um did you watch the playoffs? Chicago is nowhere close to Washington, especially if Porter and Rice Jr. Can contribute. They already had a better frontcourt than Chicago and Gasol isnt physical or quick enough to compete with them.
    Drose is finishrd playing at an all star level

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:54 PM

      The Bulls add a healthy Noah, Gasol, Mirotic and McDermott to the frontcourt. They add scoring with Rose. I think they’ll be pretty good considering they were a top 5 East team last year without that

      • fanofthegame79 - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:04 PM

        I would tend to agree, but will those offensive players play the kind of defense that has been a staple of these Bulls the last few years? The people they added bring points, but don’t necessarily stop points from being scored agaisnt them.

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:06 PM

        well if anyone can get them to play defense it is Tom Thibodeau. I also think people underrate Gasol’s defense. He may not be able to anchor the defense like he was asked to last year, but with a healthy Noah Gasol will be covered and able to focus on what he does well defensively

    • meast2144 - Jul 22, 2014 at 12:36 AM

      in the mix? they almost lost to the hawks without their best player and that was before they lost lance. Bottom feeders for sure

      • bball242322 - Jul 22, 2014 at 9:55 AM

        LOL Pacers will make the playoffs. I would bet my life on it. I didn’t know ppl actually thought that wasn’t a possibility

  3. hwatt - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    obligatory thought:
    So most times when teams ‘lose hunger’ it’s because they’re already championships. Apparently the Pacers just wanted to win a few games and call it a success.

    • casualcommenter - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:56 PM

      Agreed with this. Teams that haven’t won a championship don’t “lose their hunger” because they’re the number 1 seed after 42 games.

      That’s an excuse you hear from teams like the Heat or the Lakers that are coming off multiple championship rings won consecutively because it’s really hard for them to muster the desperation needed to beat quality teams on a consistent basis.

    • bball242322 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      Key word – MOST TIMES* – who are you to say they didn’t lose their hunger? No one knows but the Pacers players. They were walking through teams with ease for the first 3rd of the season. If you’re an athlete you’d understand, it’s easy to get complacent when you’re dominating every other team in the league. If you were a Pacers fan, you could tell that they really did just think “they could turn it on at any time” if you watched them from the beginning of the season to their late season collapse, you’d know that to be true.

      It’s funny seeing all these opinions of hatred towards the Pacers when I can tell nearly all these ppl commenting hardly ever watched the Pacers through the duration of the season.

      Yes we lost a big piece in lance, but make no mistake about it, Pacers will still be in contention in the east. With all the youth on this team, the Pacers are a year wiser, and they went through extreme adversity and negativity last year – it will only make them a stronger team this year.

  4. ProBasketballPundit - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    It’s called the Disease of ‘Me’. Pat Riley coined the phrase and it’s been true of a lot of teams. They get a taste of success and then fall apart the next season because everybody starts believing in themselves a little too much. Go back and read all the PBT headlines regarding the Pacers in December/January. Lance believed he was an all star, Hibbert believed he was DPOY, Paul George believed he was an MVP candidate…. nobody was talking about the team anymore.

    • bball242322 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      Paul George NEVER said he believed he was the MVP. he always gave the credit to Bron and Durant when it comes to that. Roy was saying PG was the MVP. Don’t get it confused.

      But you’re right on the Lance and Hibby part

  5. patsmiley - Jul 21, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    I’m sure Hibbert’s 0 point 0 rebound games had nothing to do with their second half collapse

    • casualcommenter - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:08 PM

      Those didn’t help, but it should be noted that even when the Pacers were winning a lot of games, Hibbert was only averaging around 14 points and 8 rebounds per game. Those numbers nose dived later in the year, but they were never particularly strong to begin with.

      Because he’s had a couple of 20 points, 8 rebound games against the Heat in high profile playoff games, a lot of people forget that regular season Roy Hibbert has never been a consistent 20 points, 10 rebound threat. He’s generally hovered around 12 and 8.

      • patsmiley - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:16 PM

        I know he’s not a 20-10 guy (although with his size he should be) but he started the season great at least on the defense. I had him on my fantasy team last year and he was very disappointing. He started off averaging over 4 blocks a game to see that stat cut in half towards the end of the year. He mentally decides to show up when he wants to and is pretty much absent the rest of the time. That’s not a guy I want in my locker room.

      • seansull83 - Jul 21, 2014 at 8:19 PM

        He also doesn’t need to be a 20 and 10 guy, but you can’t be 0 and 0, and get spun around like a turnstile on D. This is an excuse at best, or a product of pure idiocy mixed with arrogance. I don’t see how you lose your focus by never winning.

  6. antistratfordian - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    How can you lose your hunger when you’ve never won anything? Wow. I guess the criticism of them last year was almost spot on in regards to them celebrating like they won the championship after beating Miami in the regular season. They’ve had bouts of inexplicable dismissiveness and arrogance over the last two seasons.

    I argued that it stemmed from Vogel – they were just following his lead (remember Vogel calling Miami the biggest floppers and saying they were, “just another team”, etc?). They say a team usually takes on the personality of their coach, and that might be the case with the Pacers. Hibbert certainly went full bore in that direction with his built not bought talk.

    But, on the bright side, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and they should be a better team for it.

    • fanofthegame79 - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      ….without Lance Stephenson, it’s gonna be hard.

    • paleihe - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:10 PM

      I was gonna post something exactly like your first sentence.

      Also, PG didn’t just lose his hunger, he lost his damn pants. The Hollywood of the NBA got to him.

    • hwatt - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:20 PM

      Indiana Pacers- Half-Season champs! Get these guys some t-shirts!

      • bball242322 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:09 AM

        I’d honestly buy 1 if they made the shirt

  7. cruzan80 - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    C’mon man!

    How does a team that hasnt won anything lose its hunger????

    What they lost was respect for eachother after Paul did the “dirty” with Hibbert’s wife.

    I’ll be shocked if Hibbert doesnt ask for a trade before the summer is over.

  8. sonnysuave - Jul 21, 2014 at 4:41 PM

    PG trying to deflect attention away from him shackin up w/ Hibbert’s girl… plain and simple.

    • bball242322 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      Oh another gossip queen in our presence, u guys are relentless

  9. imakcds - Jul 21, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    Motivating the team is on the Head Coach.
    Keeping the ship steady thru rocky waters is on the Head Coach.
    Vogel lost the team last year, I do not understand why he keeps his job.

    • 1friendofthepeople - Jul 22, 2014 at 8:31 AM

      I disagree.

      The guys drafted by the Pacer’s -PG, Lance, Roy- all exceeded outside expectations entering the league. Those guys showed before entering the league they had ability but not the intangibles to be winners against lesser opponents.

      Roy’s confidence was in shambles last year. Very reminiscent of 2011 Pau vs the Dallas Mavericks, btw that was the player’s fault not NBA great Phil Jackson’s fault.

      PG admitted being distracted by his sudden numerous sponsorships and off the court responsibilities. He said they took away from his focus.

      Lance is Lance. Not much more to say than that.

      Larry Bird initially criticized Vogel for not being hard enough on the players but Bird backed off that stance after seeing the inability to handle criticism those guys had, that’s called lack of maturity. Larry Bird is a smart GM, he would have fired Vogel if he didn’t think he could take that team as far as they could possibly go. There was too much immaturity Vogel had to deal with. Last year was on the players not the coach.

  10. sportsfan18 - Jul 21, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    We lost our hunger.


    We were not mentally strong enough to maintain our hunger for the full season.

    • 22yearsagotoday - Jul 21, 2014 at 9:48 PM

      Isn’t blowing in your opponent’s ear a sign of mental strength?

      • bball242322 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        And yes it is

    • bball242322 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:13 AM

      Thanks for explaining what “we lost our hunger” means as if we couldn’t come to that conclusion ourselves

  11. caeser12 - Jul 21, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    The Pacers had their shot, and they folded because they’re mentally weak, led by media invented not really a star George, and backed up by Hibbert, whatever “hunger” they had went to Charlotte.

  12. dakotaandotter - Jul 21, 2014 at 6:08 PM

    did anyone notice they went south as soon as they started adding guys to the roster thru trades and singings? If they lost their hunger it is because of the bigger reason – they destroyed the chemistry of the team.

    • loungefly74 - Jul 22, 2014 at 8:39 AM

      bingo! yeah, turner and bynum spread the cancer to everyone else…thus chemistry was destroyed.

  13. trublazer - Jul 21, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    what have they eaten(won)??

  14. c2poke88 - Jul 22, 2014 at 2:03 AM

    Gotta call BS on that. How the heck can you lose your hunger when you haven’t accomplished anything?

    • bball242322 - Jul 22, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      Getting to the Conference Finals 2 years in a row is an accomplishment. Obviously not the greatest accomplishment, but easy to see how a team could get complacent thinking they could just coast to the Conference Finals again

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