The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Sports Columns

April 23, 2014

Mike Lopresti: Pacers finally respond to critics

So maybe the Indiana Pacers don't like being called wussies.

Is that all it took, an on-air jab from Charles Barkley? Some brash talk, apparently, from Atlanta Hawks guard and Indianapolis native son Jeff Teague? Or was it the stark reality that they were closing in on owning the notorious legacy of a team that melted in the bright lights, faster than frozen yogurt?

What made the Pacers so relentless in Game 2, and was it only temporary relief or an 11th hour cure? Will they do more of the same the next two games in in Atlanta?

"We're going to have to," David West was saying. "We've got no choice."

If Game 2's pounding of the Hawks was a turnaround, and not a mirage, maybe that was the secret all along. These past wobbly weeks, it was the Pacers' option to heal themselves or not. The Eastern Conference standings were a forgiving place. But they didn't.

Now they have no choice. The public, the media, the calendar and the Hawks have all ganged up on them with a stern message: Now, or never. Now, or infamy.

Is that what it took?

"I just think we got mad," Roy Hibbert said.

"We played with a certain level of desperation that we needed," West said.

Paul George called it, "November and December and January basketball. We got back to that."

Luis Scola said it is just a matter of playing harder and with more energy. "When you play harder all those little things go to your side. Loose balls, rebounds, call. It gives you more confidence. The game becomes easier.

"If we play the way we played in Game 1, we're going to lose regardless of Xs and Os, regardless of who we play, regardless of where we play."

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Should the Pacers match Portland's offer sheet to center Roy Hibbert?

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