CLEVELAND – Sitting in the last chair on Indiana’s bench, David West stared straight ahead, unable to look at the court.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock on another disheartening loss, West seemed dazed.
The Pacers’ promising season is unraveling
Dion Waiters scored 19 points, Luol Deng added 15 and the Cleveland Cavaliers kept their playoff push going with a 90-76 win Sunday over the skidding Pacers, who are losing their grip on the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Tristan Thompson had 16 rebounds as the Cavs snapped a nine-game losing streak against Indiana. Cleveland came in three games behind slumping, idle Atlanta for the conference’s final playoff spot. With seven games left – six against teams with losing records – the Cavs still have a chance.
The Pacers, meanwhile, are falling apart. They lost their fifth straight road game and now lead Miami by one game for the East’s top record and home-court advantage throughout the postseason. Since beating the Heat at home last week, Indiana has lost to Washington and Cleveland.
We’re losing games at an alarming rate to teams that are inferior to us, said West, who picked up a technical four in the fourth quarter. We can’t figure out a way to perform better. We’ve done what you do. We’ve had team meetings. We’ve had players-only meetings. We’ve had players and the coaches (meetings). We’re kind of looking for answers right now, and things don’t get any easier.
Paul George scored 15 and West 14 for Indiana, which fell behind by 21 in the fourth quarter.
Once thought to be a lock to make the conference finals, the Pacers are in disarray. We’re lost right now, guard Lance Stephenson said. We just have to play through it.
Indiana’s offense lacks rhythm, and other than their win over the Heat, the Pacers aren’t showing the same intensity or energy that had made them one of the NBA’s top teams. We’re all frustrated, coach Frank Vogel said. I think we’re playing against ourselves. It’s a level of play that we’re trying to reach that we’re not close to where we need to be.
There’s still time to get things fixed, but the Pacers have lost nine of 15 since March 4 and it won’t get any easier with San Antonio coming in for a visit today. The Spurs have won 17 straight.