The odds were definitely stacked against the Indiana Pacers prior to last night’s game against the Washington Wizards. The night before in Indiana, the Pacers led the Boston Celtics for three quarters before Ray Allen and Marquis Daniels stepped up in the fourth and led their team to victory. On top of being demoralized by that late loss and having to deal with the fatigue that goes with playing the second game of a back-to-back on the road, the Pacers were also in the midst of a six-game road losing streak which spanned the entire month of December.
Despite the stacked deck, Indiana played well enough to stay in the game for three quarters once again. But in the end, the Wizards were deeper and more athletic.
After the game, the Pacers locker room looked completely dejected. You’re probably saying to yourself, ‘Well damn, a post-loss locker room is always dejected, that’s how it should be,’ and you are right. But the level of dejection and depression I saw in that Pacers locker room was enough to suck the Christmas/New Year’s spirit out of anyone.
Danny Granger (15 points, nine rebounds and two steals) sat in front of his locker with both of his legs in water, and he twice rebuffed the media’s request to talk to him (but finally agreed to talk 15 minutes later — after I left, of course), and barely paid attention when assistant coach Walter McCarty tried to offer words of encouragement. Tyler Hansbrough sat at his locker room with the same dumbfounded look, and T.J. Ford (eight points and three assists) just kept looking at the final stat sheet and shaking his head. But no player was more dejected than former Georgetown Hoyas center Roy Hibbert.
Hibbert has been having a solid season overall with per game averages of 13.5 points and 8.2 rebounds. However, as Jared Wade from the TrueHoop Network Pacers blog 8 points, 9 seconds pointed out, Hibbert came into the Wizards game shooting 32-percent over his last eight games. Last night, against a smaller, lighter center in JaVale McGee, Hibbert was limited to just 15 minutes with foul trouble and only scored five points.
When the media approached Hibbert’s locker, he was getting dressed in hurry, his head was down, and it looked like he was not going to speak. He reluctantly decided to do so:
“I was slow-footed today. I was horrible from the start. I got in foul trouble, tried to play through it and it just got worse. I deserved each one of those fouls, I played horrible. I’m awful. The way I’ve been playing, I should be in the damn D-League, to tell you the truth. December has not been a good month for me, January 2011 is going to be different.”
Pacers head coach Jim O’Brien did not seem to be as dejected as his players, but given that he kept the media waiting a good 20 minutes after the game ended, perhaps he was. Here’s what he had to say about the Wizards, Hibbert and his team overall:
With about 2:25 left in the game, John Wall drove the lane, kicked the ball out to Nick Young who hit a three-pointer, and then was knocked to the ground by Josh McRoberts. Wall remained on the ground for a bit and complained to referees (who ignored him), and then he ran back down the court … and right into McRoberts’ face. There was a bit of a standoff, and then both players were pulled away by teammates, but not before Wall received a technical foul. Wall, who really hasn’t lost his temper during his Wizards tenure, was visibly upset and even seemed to get mad at his teammates for holding him back and not allowing him to go after McRoberts.
After the game, I asked McRoberts what happened:
Maybe it was small smirk that crept across his face during his answer, or maybe it was the fact that Wall was clearly irritated and in his face for a reason, but I had a difficult time believing that McRoberts did not know what happened. Sure enough, after the media walked away and the cameras and recorders were off or pointed in other directions, McRoberts went over to one of the assistant coach and replayed entire sequence — he even reenacted the forearm shiver he gave to Wall.
When in doubt, just play dumb … and then immediately show that you knew you were doing, which is also, well, dumb. For more on the Wall-McRoberts confrontation, read this post from Truth About It’s Kyle Weidie.
Also worth mentioning, the Wizards and Pacers will play each other again tomorrow night in Indiana as Washington looks to put an end to their 15-game road losing streak to start the season.