The opportunity was right there for the Indiana Pacers. A home game. A winning streak. A sellout crowd. What better way to win your first division title in nine years? The Pacers obviously didn’t feel the same way. They were a step slow, they lacked toughness and they fell on their face against one of the NBA’s best teams. The Oklahoma City Thunder dominated the Pacers in the fourth quarter in their 97-75 victory Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “It was real disappointing,” Pacers swingman Paul George said. “I felt like we came out and laid an egg.” The Pacers still had a chance to win the division Friday. But the Orlando Magic didn’t do the Pacers any favors three hours up Interstate 65 in Chicago. The Bulls kept alive their slim hopes — and the Pacers waiting for at least another day — when they beat the Magic to keep Indiana’s magic number at one game. Pacers coach Frank Vogel said before the game that it’s better for a team to clinch a division title on its own instead of getting help from others. That may end up being the case. The Pacers have a chance to redeem themselves tonight, when they travel to Washington to take on the Wizards. “We have to have a short memory,” Vogel said. “This league is about having a short memory. We have to bounce back. We have to play a great game (at Washington).” Winning the division on their home court would have been special for the Pacers after years of waiting for the opportunity. But it would have taken a perfect game for that to happen. And the Pacers were anything but perfect. The coaching staff often uses the phrase winning the “50-50 balls,” meaning beating your opponent to loose balls. As the Pacers casually pursued the ball like they were strolling in the park, the Thunder went after them with a burst of energy.
After blown chance, Pacers will have to wait another day to try and clinch division
Indianapolis Star | Apr 6