It’s the type of thing that makes you lose your appetite for the Holidays.  Just sickening.  I guess those who follow the Indiana Pacers should be inured to this type of thing by now.  Another opportunity responded to with another 4th Quarter debacle – allowing 33 points to an undermanned Cleveland Cavalier team, while bumbling and stumbling their way to only 17 points.

Looking to capitalize on an energizing victory over the Heat, the Pacers delivered an enervating performance in the final stanza last night – at both ends of the floor.  The offense was atrocious, shooting only 39% and committing as many turnovers (5) as assists.  The defense was worse.

Ugh.  It makes me ill to even think about it.   The Cavaliers hit 13-of-24 (54%) of their shots, pounded the Pacers on the boards, and dished out 6 assists with against no turnovers while facing the Pacers’ swiss cheese _efense.  The Cavs went small and to their bench in the fourth.  The Pacers were dominated by an odd mix-and-match Garanimals line up featuring Antawn Jamison, Jawad Williams, and Leon Powe up front, and Ramon Sessions and Daniel “Boobie” Gibson in the backcourt.

Indiana’s lineup was bizarre to say the least.  Roy Hibbert didn’t play at all, and Josh McRoberts spent the entire 12 minutes manning the center position.   Granger played about half of the quarter, as did Collison, but they weren’t on the floor at the same time (bringing up questions as to whether they can co-exist).  Rookie Paul George played half the quarter, despite only seeing action in one of the last six games.

It also seems relatively obvious that coach Jim O’Brien has lost the team.  He spent most of the 4th Quarter begging his team to play defense, but could instill no sense of urgency.  The players played as if the 4th quarter didn’t matter at all.  More ominously, Mike Wells tweeted that Roy Hibbert was not playing because of a “headache.”  Anybody who knows anything can only conclude that the relationship between Hibbert and his coach has reached the breaking point.

Though the 4th quarter sticks out like a sore thumb, it wasn’t the only sign of trouble.  The Pacers shot only 7-for-24 in the first quarter, jacking up 10 three pointers.  Also, the Cavs finished the 3rd with a 9-2 run, meaning the Pacers were outscored 42-19 over the final 15 minutes of the game.

The only reason that I can see not to just completely write this team off – and I’m grasping at the thinnest of straws here – is the fact that the Pacers outscored the Cavs 81-47 over the first 33 minutes of the game.

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