Through their ugly post-All-Star break funk, the Indiana Pacers have whined quite a bit through the press. Accusations of selfishness, talk of not deserving the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and so on. Head coach Frank Vogel spoke to the media about his desire for his players to stop snitching on themselves through the, um, media. Per the Indy Star:
“It bothers me,” Vogel said before the Pacers’ 101-94 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “Guys should never air in-house stuff to the media. I talked to the team about it today (Wednesday).
“It was a weird thing. Roy (Hibbert) said it a couple of days ago (after the Washington loss) and nobody really caught onto it until (recently). So I made sure to tell them that A) I don’t believe we have ‘selfish dudes’ in our locker room and B) whatever you might want to say about your teammates, don’t say it to the media. We have to get that stopped.”
There are a lot of factors that have conspired to bring the Pacers to their knees these last 36 games.
The biggest problem is their star player, (Paul) George, who hasn’t been the same since the All-Star break. He has had difficulty adapting to the new defenses that have been thrown his way. More, though, he’s had to deal with sudden stardom, had to deal with off-the-court issues involving A) a Miami stripper and B) a social-media photo that may or may not have been part of a ruse. Sometimes we forget — he’s just 23.
And there’s more. David West has been in a shooting slump. Hibbert appears and disappears, sometimes because of his teammates and sometimes because of his own failure to get deep post-up position. Luis Scola can’t make a shot, with the exception of the recent home victory over the Chicago Bulls. Backup point guard C.J. Watson has been missed more than anybody realizes.
I asked Vogel if the Danny Granger-Evan Turner trade sent his team careening in the wrong direction, even though the Pacers started struggling before the deal was made.
“No, I don’t think that’s what’s responsible for us struggling,” he said. “I think the schedule in March would have beaten us down whether we made a trade or didn’t make a trade. We had 11 games on the road this month. With 82 games, that’s why it’s so tough to win 60 games. Every team has stretches like this, some in December, some in January. It just happens that it’s happening to us in March. I still think our guys really believe in what we have here. I think it’s going to stabilize and turn around for us.”