‘Back To Reality,’ Pacers’ Work Begins Now


VIDEO:Bulls rout Pacers to end Indiana’s unbeaten run

CHICAGO – Nine-and-0 was a lark, a hoot and a flag-planting of sorts for the Indiana Pacers, who made it clear through the first three weeks of 2013-14 how deadly serious they intended to be about this season.

As for 9-1, where Indiana sits after its 110-94 drubbing by Chicago Saturday night at United Center, it doesn’t look appreciably different from that gaudy 9-0. But it is, if the Pacers want it to be. Instead of riding along on a wave of specialness that buoyed them and grabbed some spotlight as the NBA’s last unbeaten team, the Pacers now are grounded. Sober. They’ll report for work Monday like the blue-collar bunch they are, five months of Eastern Conference grit ‘n’ grind awaiting them.

“There’s so much that we took away from [the streak] already,” guard Paul George said after his 3-of-14, 12-point performance. “I wouldn’t say it’s good – it’s never good to lose – but now it’s back to reality.”

Said center Roy Hibbert: “One game. It wasn’t going to last forever. But to me, the season starts now. See how we handle adversity and bounce back. We haven’t been challenged like this. We have to show what we’re made of.”

Look, the Pacers knew it was going to end and, if pressed for a guess, many of them might have picked Saturday. Both teams were playing the tail end of back-to-back sets, both teams had traveled (Chicago from Toronto, Indiana after a home game against Milwaukee). But the Bulls had home court to protect, had lost the first clash between the Central Division rivals by 17 on Nov. 6 and had their own mini-streak of three victories to extend.

So they came out hot, hit 9 of their first 11 3-point shots, put up 60 points by halftime on the league’s No. 1 defensive club and cruised from there.

There was nothing traumatic about Indiana kicking away a game, and maybe coach Frank Vogel truly hadn’t been craving a teachable moment amid all the winning. But he has one now, which can only serve the Pacers well as they chase and get chased by Miami, Chicago and presumably at some point, Brooklyn and New York.

“It’s so early in the year,” forward David West said. “What I will say about tonight is that, if we don’t bring a certain level of IQ, a certain level of straightforwardness in terms of how we want to approach each and every game, we can beat teams like Milwaukee and whoever else playing a certain way but we can’t beat good teams. Especially in their buildings, playing undisciplined basketball, which I thought we did on the defensive end.”

Losing one didn’t rock the Pacers’ world. But it did hit where it hurts for a club that draws its identity on defense.

“I just thought they were too comfortable,” West said. “The ball was moving too frequently around the perimeter. [Derrick] Rose on one side, [Luol] Deng on the other side, back – it was just too much. We weren’t able to put a halt to their business, of forcing them into things that they were uncomfortable with.”

There was a little testiness late, with Carlos Boozer and Chris Copeland tossed near the end of the final quarter less for shoving than to avoid lighting any fuses. The Bulls resent the Pacers’ ascension last season while Rose was out, the Pacers won’t yield an inch to Chicago or anyone else that wants to tilt at their title ambitions.

George bristled a little when reminded about his comments after the Nov. 6 game, when he talked of the Pacers wanting to “step away from that shadow as the ‘little brothers’ of this division” and needled a little by telling NBA.com: “Their success is the Michael Jordan era. This is a new age, this is new team. It’s our till they take it.”

“It was completely taken out of context,” George said. “What I meant by that is, I agree with what Derrick Rose said. It’s no rivalry. We haven’t won the championship. The team to beat is Miami. I mean, all that was just taken out of context.”

Actually, it wasn’t taken out of context at all. But it was blown out of proportion by some who aren’t used to saucy talk coming out of Indianapolis.

Nobody has won a thing yet, not even Miami if we’re talking strictly about the 2014 edition of the Larry O’Brien trophy. The next five months mostly will be about churning, and learning, and yearning, and the truest statement of the night came from Hibbert when he said, “We’ll see them again.”

They’ll all see each other again, plenty, between now and springtime.

41 Comments

  1. ko0kiE says:

    I want to see the pacers play against a good offensive team out of the west like the Clippers, OKC, Houston, Spurs or Golden State..until now there weren’t a lot of suprises.. they are 1-1 vs. Chicago, the Brooklyn Game was close until the end and the other teams are not really contenders.

    let’s look at their recorcd after a road trip to the western conference… just saying

  2. Bob says:

    Pacer fans have delusions of grandeur. The great 9 game streak? It was the at the beginning of the year. Most teams are sorting out personnel and the least important games of the year. Then, mock the Heat that had a 27 game winning streak; that is exactly 3X as long as the Pacers streak. My goodness, is that logical? In my old school they had another word for that type of reasoning, but I’ll leave that to your imagination.
    Do you hear the Spurs or Heat talking that kind of garbage? No, it is full on motivation for your opponents.
    Look Pacer fans, you have a very good team. I love your team defense and your ability to grind out games like a champ. However, self promotion puts you up on a pedestal. It’s a big thrill to knock folks off pedestals and very satisfying. Just relax, enjoy the season, and respect your opponents. Give respect, get respect.

  3. Jorge Millan says:

    For everybody dismissing the 9 games streak as meaningless and a fluke, I would say I disagree. It may be that the teams they played were not the best, but at the same time keeping consistency through 9 games is remarkable. I celebrate the fact that Indiana has maintained the basketball identity they had last year, with a solid defense and a competent offense. While the difference is already apparent between East and West in terms of # of losses for top 8 teams, I hope more teams in the East stay competitive so that whomever comes out of the East is more thoroughly tested than in years past.

    I hope we get a chance to see the Miami Heat earn their way back to the finals, but surely it won’t be a cake-walk.

  4. AnnoYouLater says:

    yea they ended bobcats longest winning streak in history of the franchise…which is 1 game

  5. asian boy says:

    anyone knows what the “don’t reach ,young blood ” really means ? please tell me , thank you, i can’t translate it in my language.

    • two says:

      It’s what kyrie irving says when he is dressed as uncle drew (search it on youtube).

      A reaching foul is when a defender tries to steal the ball from someone who is dribbling, but he touches the body of the dribbler before he gets to the ball. Kyrie says don’t reach, meaning, don’t make a reaching foul. Young blood is just what he calls his opponents.

  6. sports fan says:

    Before losing to the Bulls, 9-0 is still 9-0. The Heat’s record for their first nine games was 6-3 & they lost 2 of those to Philly & Boston. So for all of those idiots here saying that they’re just 9-0 because they played bad teams, the Pacers were beating the bad teams that they were supposed to beat & the Heat did not. It’s still very early in the season & teams are working on their chemistry. The Bulls have shown they’re starting to get it together, the Nets will eventually get it together, & I think the Knicks will actually get it together too. Indy, Miami, & Chicago will definitely be in top form come playoff time.The Nets & the Knicks will take the 4th & 5th spots because there’s still a lot of games for them to win in the regular season.

  7. IHateChicagoBulls says:

    Bulls are garbage

    Go Pacers and Heat

  8. mike says:

    george paul and the pacers should focus on getting better. playing each other and trust each other. they are a deep team, but i dont see them play deep lol. they should learn from my favorite team, the Spurs. their rotation from starting to 2nd unit and 3rd unit should play the same. common, they have scola watson copeland mahinmi then they still have granger.
    focus on that rather than sticking their nose into public’s criticism. i hate to read that article about george saying he is fueled for not being seen? or recognize?..

  9. Game Time says:

    I don’t see why their streak was even a big deal. 9 wins with six being home games, and the two road teams who were not playoff teams for the past few years. They had a big win in Brooklyn and that’s it. Basically the Pacers came out trying to show how big and bad they’re supposed to be fueled by the playoff loss. They look strong, but fact is most teams are just trying different things out right now and are not playing their full game. Watching them get blown out last night was funny because they have been jumping around like they own the NBA.

    • asdf says:

      Oh, oh, Bulls are great because they blew out Pacers at home, who cares Pacers blew them out at home as well. People made big deal of the streak because Pacers looked like a very complete team, their defense has been extraordinary and they were still able to score nicely. Finally, if you’re a championship contender you should be able to dominate the non-playoffs teams and so far Pacers did it contrary to Heat or Clippers and probably more championship contenders.

      • Marcus says:

        There is a difference. Pacers did not blow the Bulls out, they pulled away in the fourth qtr. It was close MOST of the game. The Bulls, however, dominated them from start to finish. They were up as much as 33, only for the Pacers to salt it away to 16. Learn your b-ball terminology before posting on public forums.

      • Justafan says:

        Have you been watching the game. Bulls had a double digit lead for most of the game.

        Just saying.

    • JustTheStr8Facts says:

      They won five games in seven nights, two back to backs (one of those on the end was road game in Brooklyn). It wasn’t a bad run and they looked good.

    • crazymaso says:

      You need to jump back in to reality, or actually watch NBA games for one.

      asdf has mentioned this – the Pacers blew out the Bulls on their homecourt as well.

      Go have a play around with statistics. Look at the %% the Bulls shot, then scale it back to what their NORMAL average 3PT would be. They barely win. That is still with a high FG %.

      The moral of the story? It’s the NBA. Teams gets hot. When a team shoots the way they did, of course they will win. Using games like this as an example of who is better is a joke.

      For the record for the delusional Bull fans – The Pacers have made it further in the playoffs than the Bulls have since Jordan left town. Hurts to know facts doesn’t it? :)

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      @ Game Time

      What your saying is very true! They were trying to prove their coach right when he said the “Pacers are elite” lol

  10. mike says:

    they ended the bobcats losing streak last year too

  11. Ronald Gray says:

    Ross. Bultter. Dung.

  12. asharif24 says:

    Bulls just keep ending streaks! Last year it was the Heat’s win streak, this year its the pacers

    • Chachou1982 says:

      Yes it is true the Bulls ended the HEAT win streak last year and the pacers this year but the last Time I checked we (HEAT ) ended the bulls season by beating them up 4-1 in the playoffs….. And the pacers in the eastern finals 4-3

    • Marcus says:

      …they ended a Knick’s streak as well, I believe.

  13. mike says:

    i think it was the Spurs team who just played with bad teams…
    but thats my team… go Spurs

  14. mike says:

    woooooot…. Bulls
    Jordan’s era?
    i like Bulls and Pacers
    or any team in the East other than Heat hahaha….

    Go West :)

  15. lol says:

    Pacers are a better team than Bulls, they had just a bad game thats all, come playoff time they r gunna pwn them big time.

  16. Antony says:

    pacers just win 9 streak because they play with the worst teams on nba,the last night they face a conference finals contentender and the bulls really put preasure on they and show how hard its play with a great defense

    • crazymaso says:

      You do realise the Pacers beat the Bulls last week right?

    • alp says:

      truth betold the bulls aren’t even that good of a team right now… the pacers have yet to face a true championship contending team… but your right, they were facing garbage tams, thus the 9 game winning streak

    • TheStarMiddleschooler says:

      A fluke? really? SO what your telling me Miami in the 2011 season was a Fluke in the regular season? its the fact that shots are falling or Good D. NOTHING is a fluke.

    • JAMES says:

      PRESSURE, COME ON? SPELLCHECK!?

  17. miami says:

    i love this game,let bulls and pacers face in the play off for them to grind each other before facing miami…