The Indiana Pacers have reached a point in the season where they can’t afford to lose to lesser competition, so coming up short against the 29-44 Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night was not ideal. For Paul George, it was downright infuriating.
Despite leading by as many as nine points midway through the fourth quarter, the Pacers collapsed and ended up losing to Minnesota, 115-114. George did not hold back after the game.
“Pissed,” George said of how the loss made him feel, according to Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star. “I know I was pissed. It’s the only to really sum it up.”
In just one night, the Pacers fell from fifth in the Eastern Conference to seventh. With one more loss, they would fall below .500 for the first time since Jan. 1. The No. 8-seed Miami Heat currently hold the tie-breaker over the Pacers for playoff position, so a berth in the postseason is hardly a guarantee with just eight games remaining.
“We should have a professional approach, man, and defend our home court, especially to a team that’s not even in the playoffs,” George added. “That’s what it comes down to. As a team, we’ve got to have a grit and we’ve got to own up, man up.
“There’s no urgency, no sense of urgency, no winning pride. This locker room is just not pissed off enough.”
Playing on the road has been a major issue for the Pacers this season. They’re just 11-25 in games away from Bankers Life Field House, so you can understand why a home loss to the T-Wolves this late in the season is such a problem. George alluded to that.
“It’s tough losing a game here that we need knowing that we don’t play well on the road,” he said. “When we lose focus here, I’m not sure where our head is going to be as a team tomorrow. I’ll make sure to gather these guys around and let them understand, man, that we’ve got to win. That’s the only thing that’s important. The only thing that should be motivational is winning.”
George led the team with 37 points, but he can’t win games by himself. If Indiana ends up missing the playoffs because of a late-season meltdown, there’s no guarantee George will want to remain with the team this summer. We have already heard rumblings that he is determined to play for a certain team, and PG13 could try to force his way there sooner rather than later if he gets frustrated enough.