AL HAMNIK: Pacers' collapse will cost many jobs when season ends

2014-05-06T18:00:00Z 2014-06-09T22:31:06Z AL HAMNIK: Pacers' collapse will cost many jobs when season endsAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
May 06, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

The Pacers are coming apart like a cheap suit.

They can't make baskets. On every shot, you can hear the white canes tapping.

They're going after each other physically and verbally.

Roy Hibbert, their 7-foot-2 center and much-ballyhooed rim protector, has been a bust in these playoffs, averaging 5.3 points and 3.7 rebounds. He averages almost as many fouls (3.1) per game as boards.

And to think, coach Frank Vogel was pushing him as NBA Defensive Player of the Year in late March.

The stumbling, bumbling, fumbling Pacers have become selfish, indifferent and, worse yet, uninspired. They need to watch a Larry Bird highlight reel, then get slapped upside their heads.

Maybe that would wake them up.

They're even snapping at Vogel, once thought to be a rising star among league coaches. But with this steady meltdown since the All-Star break, Frankie boy may be looking for work next season.

In fact, ownership could blow up the entire team.

The Pacers are not who we thought they were – a legitimate contender to unseat the Miami Heat, conquer the best in the West and win it all.

At the moment, they trail upstart Washington 1-0 in the second round, losing 102-96 Monday night in Indy.

It was the Wizards' first second-round win in 32 years.

They're no longer young and inexperienced. They're growing faster than mold after eliminating the Bulls in five games, holding that series favorite to 90 points per game.

Coach Randy Wittman's Wiz Kids are now the Pacers' headache.

Indiana was outrebounded 53-36 and outscored 19-5 on second-chance points in Game 1.

In the fourth quarter, with still plenty of time to rally, Indiana went seven minutes without a basket. Tap, tap, tap.

And like it did against the Bulls, Washington again dominated the offensive boards, 17-6.

So, are the Pacers destined for one of the biggest choke jobs in NBA history? Game 2 is tonight in Indy and we'll know more after that.

But the Bulls saw this coming.

I dug out some notes I had from the first-round series and the proof was there in their post-game comments.

Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau: "They have very good size with their perimeter players. (Guards Bradley) Beal and (John) Wall are terrific and they are getting better and better. They complement each other very well.

"You can't overlook the value of (Trevor) Ariza. He can go anywhere and make it hard on anybody. (Marcin) Gortat doesn't get the credit he deserves. He's one of those blue-collar guys out there banging on every play."

Forward Mike Dunleavy: "They're a really good road team. They deserved to win the series."

Guard Kirk Hinrich: "They outplayed us the entire series."

Center Joakim Noah: "There are no holes on that team. They're young, talented and will be tough for years to come."

Maybe the Pacers will bounce back tonight. Maybe Hibbert will actually grab a rebound.

It'll be his first in the series.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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