The Indiana Pacers (52-22) continue to cling on to the spot in the Eastern Conference, but there’s plenty of unhappiness in the locker room. All-Star center Roy Hibbert accused certain teammates of being selfish following a demoralizing 91-78 Friday night loss to the Washington Wizards. Per NBA.com:
If you thought Indiana’s win over Miami last Wednesday restored order among the Pacers, got them out of their latest post All-Star break funk, got them pointed back in the right direction, you had to wait only 48 hours before the Pacers marched into the wall again.
“Some selfish dudes in here,” Roy Hibbert muttered Friday night, after getting eight shots in the Pacers’ loss to the Wizards. “Some selfish dudes. I’m tired of talking about it. We’ve been talking about it for a month.”
After getting spanked by the Cavaliers in Cleveland Sunday, the Pacers have dropped five of seven games overall — though the two wins were over Chicago and Miami — and five straight road games. Their offensive issues are front and center again and a growing concern for this title contender.
It’s been a problem for Indiana since February, and while no one will specify a name, it’s obvious that the person in question is All-Star Paul George. While Lance Stephenson occasionally pounds the ball, nobody handles or hoists the rock as much as George does. It is not a problem every night, though, and that is part of the problem.
When the Pacers play against really good defenses like Miami and Chicago, the ball moves from side to side, inside-out, and the Pacers look like the championship contender they are. But when they play against less celebrated defenses, the ball too often sticks. And George, too often, is believed to be the main culprit.
“We know we can’t beat Miami playing that way, so we don’t play that way,” said forward David West — who also didn’t single anyone out individually. “We know what the margin for error is. I think everybody, to a man in this locker room, just feels like we’ve got to figure out a way to play better, have a better approach to the way we play offensive basketball. It’s just not good for us.”
“We play hard, but we’ve got to move the ball,” Hibbert said. “Is it obvious, or what? I don’t know whatever our assist ratio, or whatever it is, is in the league, but it probably isn’t up there. I’m really trying hard not to spaz out right now, but I don’t know. We’ve been talking about it for a month. I’m not handling the rock. I don’t know. I’ve made suggestions before and we do it for, like, one game, and then we revert back to what we are. I don’t know. I’m not the one to answer that question. It directly affects me and the bigs. We’re just out there and it makes us look bad.”