While losing 95-84 to the Utah Jazz tonight, the Pacers tonight looked like a team full of young players who may have been less than prepared to play well just a day after their GM reportedly tried to trade two rotation players. Perhaps that wasn’t the case, but it’s hard to think that it was merely poor execution and an off shooting night that caused a 27.7% shooting first half.
That’s just really, really hard to do for a team not populated by a Joel Anthony clone army
And since there is almost nothing about this single game that is worth discussing nor remembering, I was curious as to whether or not the players thought it was just one of those nights or whether the trade talk was a factor.
I asked both Danny Granger and Brandon Rush, who was were reportedly minutes away from no longer playing professional basketball in Indiana, and each, as expected, said they just played badly. “We just got our ass kicked — didn’t rebound, didn’t shoot well,” said Granger. “That’s the recipe for a loss.”
Specifically, in terms of how a team can shoot below 28% for a whole half, Danny put the blame on the team not using an offense that had, before tonight’s 84-point outing, produced at least 100 points in all 12 games that Frank Vogel has coached. “We tried to go one-on-one too much and didn’t let our movement work for us,” said Granger. “We just didn’t execute our offense as we have in the past.”
More important than whether or not the team came out flat in one game after a crazy trade deadline Thursday — which, it should be noted, was insane leaguewide way more so than it was for Indiana — is whether or not the involved players will be affected.
For Rush, the worth-mentioning preface to all this is that it has been a hectic month.
First he sprained his ankle, which sidelined him for a while and allowed Paul George to get some extended shine. (George was already well-established in the rotation prior to the injury, but did get more time and, likely, leeway while the coach had fewer options available on the bench.) Then came yesterday’s report that would have had Brandon packing for New Orleans had Larry Bird been able to get everything in order a little more quickly. All that, and now he finds himself back in the Pacers starting lineup following Mike Dunleavy Jr. suffering a broken thumb that is expected to keep him out for the next six to eight weeks.
Still, he said he’s just ready to play ball. “I’m ready to help this team to win,” said Rush. “Being a part of this organization has been great. I’m just looking forward to [the rest of the season].”
As a third-year player who has had his name floated in deals before, he understands it is a business. “That’s the way I look at it: it’s a business,” said Rush. “You can’t take anything personal because everything is about business around here. You try not to get your feelings involved. I mean, everybody’s bound to get traded every once in a while.”
And despite the loss and the obvious frustration Rush showed about that, he has remained upbeat enough to even drop some jokes about his future in Indiana and what the front office has in store for him next. “What’s going to happen this summer?” he asked with a tongue-in-cheek grin. “Maybe they’re gonna try again.”
Josh McRoberts was quick to dismiss any impact that this week’s trade deadline may have had on him. “I’m frustrated we lost,” said a stoic McRoberts. After some prodding about him almost being sent to Memphis, he only offered that “it’s good to know that I’ll be here the rest of the year. That’s a good thing. That’s positive.”
Like Granger, he saw tonight’s garbage-scented performance as simply an on-court performance problem. “We got killed,” said McRoberts. “They killed us on the boards. We didn’t help each other on defense or rebounding. We got killed.”
You sure did, Indiana.