By TYLER SMITH (@TylerSmith_ISL)
INDIANAPOLIS — The Pacers have been so good at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season… until recently.
A three-game home-stand looked like just what the Pacers needed in a tight playoff race. Instead of taking advantage, the Pacers went 1-2 and now have to play three tough road games in a row.
Paul George had a monster night on Tuesday, scoring 37 points on 12-of-21 shooting. But those numbers weren’t enough to lead Indy over the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that had lost six straight games coming in.
“We didn’t have a professional approach, especially on our home court,” George said. “As a team, we’ve got to have grit, and have got to man up.”
Paul George after the tough loss- pic.twitter.com/WVHUG2zqfY
— Tyler Smith (@TylerSmith_ISL) March 29, 2017
George continued: “I was pissed. That’s really the only way to sum it up.” A few minutes later, he said his teammates may not have felt the same way as him. “This locker room isn’t pissed off enough. There’s no urgency or winning pride right now.”
After this year’s Trade Deadline, Pacer fans are hanging on every word from their franchise player. An unexpected loss to Minnesota won’t calm anybody down.
“To be honest, man, I don’t think I got the ball enough down the stretch,” George said. “I don’t know. It’s a very frustrating loss right now.”
Every Pacer starter put up solid numbers in the loss. Jeff Teague had 20 points and 10 assists. Every starter had at least 14 points. The second unit gave no production, but the starters still had the chance to put the game away late. Two questionable foul calls hurt Indiana down the stretch.
“You can’t leave it up to the officials,” said Pacers coach Nate McMillan. “We had chances to put the game away. We can’t put the game in their hands.”
In some cases, getting right back on the floor is a good thing after a tough loss. But for the Pacers, they haven’t won a single road game all season on the second night of a back-to-back.
“It’s tough,” said Paul George. “Knowing that we don’t play well on the road. Not sure where our head’s going to be tomorrow. I’ll make sure I try to gather these guys around, and let them understand that we gotta win.”
To add salt in the wound, the Bucks, Hawks, and Heat all won their games on Tuesday. The Pacers are now alone in 7th place in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of Miami for 8th, and just two games ahead of Chicago for 9th.
But if there’s one thing this team has taught Pacer fans this year, it’s to expect the unexpected with whatever comes next.