The standings are still clear.

Right now, four teams are battling for the playoff spot.

The Bucks just fell out of the playoff hunt because of a loss.

The four teams that are still in it are the Detroit Pistons (37-40), Indiana Pacers (33-44), Charlotte Bobcats (34-43), and the New Jersey Nets (32-45).

The Pistons' playoff spot is secure. For the Pacers to make the eighth seed, the Pistons have to lose every game while the Pacers have to win every game.

It will be tough, but anything is possible, right? If they don't make it, hope is on the way for next year.

But is hope on the way this year?

The game the Pacers played in showed that they have heart. They have the determination for the playoffs. They want it badly. Can they do it? Can they actually make it? They haven't made it since the 2005-2006 season. Is the 2008-2009 season the one?

It is unlikely the Pacers will make the playoffs this year, but the Pacers are trying as hard as they can anyways. They can beat the Bobcats for the playoffs. Don't need to worry about that. Right now, it is a battle between the Pistons and Pacers for the playoffs.

Danny Granger brought it on towards the Thunder with his 24 points. Troy Murphy slithered along with his 22 as the Pacers steam-rolled the Thunder by 18 points! Their slim playoff hopes are still alive.

With five suspense games to play, the Pacers are trailing four games behind the Pistons and Bulls, who are both, by the way, tied for the seventh place with a 37-40 record.

"As a collective unit, we didn't want to finish the season on a sour note - regardless of whether we're going to make the playoffs or we're not,'' Granger said. "We've still got to play every game.''

Again, the Pacers shot 50 percent or better. That was the seventh straight game they have done that! With that help, they literally outscored the Thunder by a score of 33-19 in the last quarter.

Four other Pacer players put on numbers, too. Roy Hibbert lead the pack of four with his 17 points. Jarrett Jack followed along with 14 and Brandon Rush went on with 13 points. Acquired from the Raptors, T.J. Ford piled on his points by putting on 12.

"We're not going to make the playoffs,'' Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said. "We could win every game and not make the playoffs. We're too far behind.''

But don't forget, Jim O'Brien: If the Pistons or Bulls lose every game, and the Pacers win every game, look what happens. Don't be so....negative.

And the Pacers, like I said, certainly aren't giving up at all! They have been averaging 110.4 points in their last seven games. Those points are higher than their average. The Pacers have also been 5-2 in the last seven games, also.

"We've just been putting it together lately,'' Granger said. "We've been hitting on all cylinders on the offensive end.''

And with that saying, the Pacers can make the playoffs.

Hope is surely on the way, I guarantee. If they don't make it this year, which it looks like they will, they surely will make it next year. This was probably a rebuilding year for the Pacers. I can see Indy making it next year. If the Pacers just won at least three or four games that they should have won this year, they were in the playoffs.

The luck was bad in those games.

But look where the Pacers have made it so far. They were just one team away from the playoffs. I believed in them the whole year.

If they bring their passion, their pride, they are the Pacers.