Or at least in my mind that is what I want to believe.
If there was one thing the Indiana Pacers could rely on early in the season, it was their scrappy defense.
They took charges, communicated on the court and denied passing lanes. In the process, they became one of the league's leaders in field goal percentage defense.
Times have changed, though. During their current six-game losing streak, the Pacers have reverted to what they did defensively in previous seasons.
"We come in with a game plan, but we seem to do everything except execute it these days," veteran Jeff Foster said. "If guys aren't focused in on what we have to do, then the defense will suffer."
Opponents have shot at least 50 percent from the field against the Pacers in four of the past five games. It took the first 24 games for four foes to shoot at least 50 percent from the field. The Pacers have dropped to seventh in the league in field goal defense (44.2 percent).
Things began to change on defense when players started worrying about the underachieving offense. In previous seasons, offense had been a strength.
With New Jersey in town tonight, the Pacers find themselves struggling on both ends.
"It's like we're overly concerned with our offense because it's been a struggling point for us, that we're slipping on defense," swingman Mike Dunleavy said. "We need to get back to defending the way we're capable of.
"We just need to worry about the offense secondarily, because I think we've tried so hard to solve that, we've neglected the defense and now we're not doing either one well."
Center Roy Hibbert has not been a factor defensively. He is averaging 1.1 blocked shots a game this month after averaging 2.1 during the first two months of the season.
"Roy hasn't been playing a lot lately," forward Danny Granger said. "Roy used to give us a back line of defense when teams would drive on us. We've also had so many different lineup changes, too. That plays a part in messing up our schemes."
Jim O'Brien, an offensive-minded coach, has replaced Josh McRoberts in the starting lineup with Tyler Hansbrough. McRoberts is more of a blue-collar worker, while Hansbrough is the team's best scoring threat in the frontcourt.
O'Brien also recently took T.J. Ford -- the Pacers' best defensive point guard, according to O'Brien -- out of the rotation. A.J. Price has moved into his spot.
"Anytime you go from a guy that has been in the league for a little bit to a (second-year player), rotations and the understanding of the defense is not there," O'Brien said. "The only way they're going to learn is by getting a lot of game experience."
Swingman Brandon Rush will be out about two weeks with a sprained right ankle. Rush, who is wearing a walking boot, injured his ankle in the third quarter against Orlando on Wednesday. Price will get some of Rush's minutes at shooting guard. . . . Ford will be at Dick's Sporting Goods at Castleton Mall to take part in a coat drive from 4:30-6 p.m. Sunday. Fans donating gently used or new coats will receive two tickets to either the Feb. 9 game against Charlotte or the Feb. 11 game against Minnesota.
Also I think Mike is pointing out that Josh being out of the lineup may be hurting the defense as well.
Again that is not a bash at Tyler at all, he has done fine in his position. It is however a slap at JOB for once again deciding that Josh should go from starter to inactive and come hell or high water James Posey will be active and most likely play or we must by law have 4 wing players in the game.
It's so dang simple to me that I just don't get it other than Jim's absolute love of the stretch four (which doesn't work) and his fascination with wing players.
Roy & Tyler start, first one goes to the bench (doesn't matter who) in come Josh, then Jeff can replace the other and then they replace each other. But nooooooooooooooooooo.....
Oh well why waste my time thinking or complaining about this.