This is one of the more interesting articles written by Mr. Wells. But what he said towards the end caught my attention.
Playoffs now seem dubious ambition
Pacers look dispirited in another loss to rival for postseason berth
By Mike Wells
March 31, 2007
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The goal sounded good at first.
The Indiana Pacers would go on the road, roll up their sleeves and work hard to salvage their disappointing season.
They were knocked around and bruised in their first stop, New Jersey, on Wednesday.
The Pacers' second stop, Orlando, to which they went staggering, wasn't much better, and now their chance of making the playoffs is on life support.
In a game in which the final score was misleading and after which All-Star forward Jermaine O'Neal was near tears, the Pacers continued their losing skid, falling 95-87 to the Magic on national television Friday.
"It's just disappointing to lose the way we have been losing," O'Neal said. "It's embarrassing; it's a lot of things."
The losing has taken its toll on O'Neal, and the writing on the wall about his future in the organization is becoming clearer every day.
As he sat with his injured left ankle in a tub of ice water, O'Neal was asked about wanting to be traded, a question likely to continue to come up as the Pacers move closer to missing the playoffs for the first time since 1996-97.
After pausing for 10 seconds to take in the question, O'Neal put a towel over his face to hide his emotions and ended the interview session. O'Neal has said a number of times since last summer that he plans to sit down with CEO Donnie Walsh and president Larry Bird at the end of the season to address future plans.
The loss has the Pacers 21/2 games behind the Magic and trailing New Jersey by two games in the playoff race. They don't own the tiebreaker over either team, making their playoff chances that much more difficult.
"I would have thought a long time ago we would have had this thing turned around," O'Neal said. "We lost seven games in a row and I thought we would have had the incentive to go out and try and be a better team and get into the postseason."
The Pacers are saying the right things, like their season isn't over and they can still make the playoffs.
But as the saying goes, action speaks louder than words. The only action the Pacers have shown lately is that of a team that has given up any hope of making the playoffs, which is evident by their body language on the court.
They've lost 17 of the past 19 games, including 11 straight on the road.
The schedule doesn't get any easier for the Pacers. Their next two games are against San Antonio and Detroit, two of the best teams in the league.
"We are not giving into anything," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "We are going to keep fighting this thing and getting ready for the next (game). We will break through. It's about winning games and competing. It's a tough situation, but nothing comes out of giving in. That ain't going to happen."
With playoff implications on the line, the only Pacers player seemingly putting forth any effort was point guard Jamaal Tinsley, who led the Pacers with 27 points.
O'Neal, who missed Wednesday's game against the Nets, struggled all night, going 4-of-18 from the field for 10 points and three rebounds. He limped throughout most of the game and sat out the final few minutes.
Forward Grant Hill led the Magic with 22 points. Trevor Ariza came off the bench to add 17 points.
"That's a good win for us, obviously, with the situation in the standings," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "It gives us a two-game lead in the loss column right now, which is a tiny bit of breathing room, anyway."
Does anyone else agree that JT was the only guy seemingly giving any effort. On the whole the Pacers effort last night was pretty good. Yes it was a little inconsistant, but I just find it strange that Wells picks now to get into the effert thing.
I do agree that the Pacers body language on the court is horrible. When even the slightest thing goes wrong - the team falls apart