HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Pacers acquired David West for more than just his abilities on the basketball court. They added the veteran power forward for his presence, leadership and penchant for staying calm in the midst of a fuss.
A four-game losing streak for an upstart crew like the Pacers would qualify as a mini-fuss, at least. So it should come as no surprise that West spoke up after the Pacers’ latest setback, an ugly loss in Orlando.
He addressed the Pacers’ struggles against playoff caliber teams and reminded his teammates publicly that if they are serious about contending this season, they have to realize that good teams don’t get their doors blown off the way they did against Orlando, telling all that and more to Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:
“We beat up on bad teams, but just can’t compete against the good teams,” West said. “Games we’ve had against playoff-caliber teams, we’ve lost to them. That’s the measure to where we are. We just have to be real about it.”
Yes, the Pacers have impressive road victories over Boston, Orlando, the Lakers, Dallas and Chicago this season.
But all those wins happened by Feb. 3.
The way the Pacers played against Orlando quickly made you forget about how they were less than two minutes away from beating Miami the night before.
“We came out tonight flat and didn’t play well, didn’t play together,” West said. “We got blown out the gym. That doesn’t happen to good teams, either.”
The Pacers haven’t beat a team with a winning record since knocking off the Mavericks. That’s nine straight losses for the those of you counting at home.
The Pacers should feel fortunate to still be the fifth seed in the East.
They won’t be there for long if they keep this up. Then again, if the Knicks continue to struggle and the Hawks and Celtics can’t put together sustained runs of high quality play, the Pacers might be able to tread water the next few weeks and hold on to that top-five spot.
But no team should count on it in such a volatile season, given all of the injuries that have derailed plans and the looming trade deadline.