Lance Stephenson, George Hill reportedly had to be separated during timeout
To say the things are unraveling for the Indiana Pacers down the stretch of the regular season arguably can be both an understatement and an overstatement. Reports of infighting continue to the plague the team, but the Pacers nevertheless are sitting in the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 52-23 record.
The Pacers haven’t been at their best since the All-Star break — the team is 13-13 in its last 26 games — and Monday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs leaves the team mired in a three-game losing streak. The slide has left Pacers players a bit salty, a bit verbose and apparently, a bit sick of one another.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Lance Stephenson and George Hill had to be separated by teammates during a second half timeout
The supposed unraveling began last week when center Roy Hibbert slammed his teammates following a loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday. Coming off a huge win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday, Hibbert clearly did not think too highly of some of his teammates, although he did not single any player out publicly.
“Some selfish dudes in here,” Roy Hibbert said after the loss to the Wizards, according to an NBA.com report. “Some selfish dudes. I’m tired of talking about it. We’ve been talking about it for a month.”
Hibbert continued, further lamenting the perceived selfishness.
“We play hard, but we’ve got to move the ball,” he 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.”
Publicly backbiting teammates in the press never is a good sign or an indication of solidarity on a roster, but Hibbert’s comments arguably can be chalked up to extreme frustration following a bad loss.
Hibbert was back at it again, though, following Monday’s loss to the Spurs, although his comments were less about pointing fingers than about trying to figure out why things are going so poorly.
“We’ve been in a downward spiral,” he said. “And we’ve been splintering a little bit.”
It’s difficult to argue with his assessment when looking at the big picture of how the team is coming apart at the seams in countless ways. And at the worst time possible, too.
With seven games to go, the Pacers need to right the ship immediately. The team is in a virtual lock with the Heat on top of the East after Monday’s loss and the Heat’s win (Miami holds the top stop by a miniscule amount of percentage points). There is still plenty of time to reassert the team’s nearly season-long stranglehold on the No. 1 seed. If the team can put it back together on the fly.
Meanwhile, Hibbert was asked on Monday about how he felt about losing the top seed to the Heat. Again, he didn’t pull any punches.
“Good for them,” Hibbert reportedly said. “We don’t deserve it.”
Wherever the Pacers end up at season’s end, it likely won’t face a grueling test in the first round no matter who the team plays, but the dysfunction occurring both on and off the court is not a good sign of where the team is at heading into the postseason … a perfect scenario in which a team can suffer a monumental collapse.