SH Blog: Paul George must improve offensively in order to save Pacers’ season, Kyrie Irving cleared to practice

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Paul George

By now, we all know that the Indiana Pacers have some major issues on the offensive end. If you don’t, check out the previous blog. What exactly are they doing wrong and who is the main culprit for killing their offense? Our friend coach Nick of Bbballbreakdown gives his take on the situation, and it mainly involves Paul George and how badly he has fallen off since the beginning of the season:

I’m sure Nick isn’t trying to say that George is to blame for everything, but as stated in the clip, his struggles when the Pacers lose sticks out like a sore thumb. Given that he is undoubtedly the most important player on the team, it makes sense that his struggles directly correlates with the team’s struggles. If part of the issue is, indeed, that he has gone away from the mechanics that helped him succeed tremendously in the early going, this could turn out to be a lost season for George because that’s not something he can fix at this point of the season – it would have been fixed by now otherwise.

George’s shooting percent has gone down every single month. He shot 47.2 percent in November and 46.8 percent in December, but hasn’t shot above 41 percent in any month since, bottoming out at an atrocious 37.2 percent in March. In the last nine games, he has shot below 29 percent five times and managed to shoot above 40 percent just once. That’s reaching Harrison Barnes status. To be fair, George is not the only major player on the team to see a steep drop in production. Roy Hibbert, who had averaged around 12 points and seven rebounds for much of the season, has seen his numbers drop to 9.7 points on 42.2 percent shooting and 4.6 rebounds in March without a decrease in playing time – simply inexplicable for a supposedly-dominant center. Hibbert has pointed out that the lack of ball movement from his guards may be the primary culprit for his struggles, but nothing excuses 4.6 rebounds from one of the tallest and strongest centers in the league. 

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SH Blog: Hibbert blasts teammates, Beverley avoids surgery, Bosh has words for Pacers

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roy-hibbert-kind-of-surprisedThe Indiana Pacers are officially in trouble.

It may sound like a silly thing to say about a team with a 52-23 record. They have the most wins in the Eastern Conference, and are by far the best defensive team in the league. The problem, however, lies in their inability to score effectively. In fact, the offense of this supposed-juggernaut team has become downright comical in recent weeks.

The Pacers have lost five of their last six games, including an embarrassing 103-77 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. During that miserable stretch, Indiana scored more than 80 points just once – an 84-83 victory against the Heat. Most teams break 80 points by the third quarter or early in the fourth quarter, so it’s hard to win any game when you are that anemic on the offensive end. Every good team struggles here and there, but to score under 80 points in five of six games this late into the season is simply inexplicable, especially for a team with championship aspirations. 

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Duncan tops Durant for Western Conference Player of the Week Honors

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Tim_Duncan_SpursNEW YORK – The Spurs’ 17-game winning streak brought an added bonus Monday. Tim Duncan was named Player of the Week — this coming despite Kevin Durant averaging 32.5 points on .597 shooting.

It was the 22nd time Duncan has won the award.

The Orlando Magic’s Nikola Vucevic and the San Antonio Spurs’ Duncan were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, March 24, through Sunday, March 30.

Vucevic led the Magic to a 2-1 week, which included wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Bobcats, behind averages of 22.7 points (sixth in the conference) and a league-leading 14.3 rebounds. He posted a point-rebound double-double in all three contests, including a 24-point, 23-rebound effort on March 28, during Orlando’s 110-105 win over Charlotte.

Duncan led the Spurs to the NBA’s lone unbeaten record on the week at 4-0. He averaged 20.0 points (tied-eighth in the conference) on .625 shooting from the field (eighth in the conference), 8.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.0 steals. On March 26, Duncan’s versatility was on display as he posted 29 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals during a 108-103 win over the Denver Nuggets.

Here is a recap of the week for Vucevic and Duncan:

Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic

March 25 vs. Portland: Collected 22 points and 10 rebounds during a 95-85 win over the Trail Blazers.
March 28 vs. Charlotte: Scored 24 points and pulled down 23 rebounds in a 110-105 win over the Bobcats.
March 30 @ Toronto: Posted 22 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a 98-93 loss to the Raptors.

Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
March 26 vs. Denver: Notched 29 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and two steals in a 108-103 win over the Nuggets.
March 28 @ Denver: Posted 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks during a 133-102 win as the Spurs swept a home-and-home with the Nuggets.
March 29 vs. New Orleans: Scored 12 points and added eight rebounds, six assists and four blocks during a 96-80 win over the Pelicans.

Other nominees for the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce, Charlotte’s Al Jefferson, Cleveland’s Dion Waiters, Miami’s LeBron James, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Phoenix’s Goran Dragic, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan and Washington’s John Wall.

Mike Monroe of SA Express-News Honored by PBWA

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MonrowThe first journalist to make the move from print to online-only was Mike Monroe. He was ahead of his time.

Few remember Monroe’s stint as the national columnist for Fox Sports, and even fewer probably remember the circumstances of his departure — it came out of nowhere, the folks at Fox believing it was a bad idea to have an online national columnist — a decision that was patently absurd in hindsight, but a decision that Fox has never rectified.

Shortly after his departure from Rupert Murdoch’s empire, Monroe introduced himself at an NBA Finals news conference as “Mike Monroe from Monster dot com.” In the years since, online-only columnists have become the most high-profile members of the profession. Just ask Mark Stein of ESPN.com or Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Now, the guinea pig has a new way to introduce himself: Mike Monroe, winner of the Phil Jasner award.

Marks: Finally Victorious, Sixers Happy to Only Own a Piece of Rock Bottom

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Bj8Yi39IgAA3cNTPHILADELPHIA— Jimmy Fallon, sportscasters throughout the country and op-ed columnists can stop making them the butt of jokes and wisecracks now.

The Philadelphia 76ers will only share a piece of the record book, rather than having it all to themselves.

By scoring 70 first-half points on their way to a 123-98 blowout of the totally disinterested Detroit Pistons here last night, the Sixers avoided the ignominy of owning professional sports’ all-time losing streak. Never will a team be so willing and grateful to only own a piece of rock bottom: 26 games … but finally no longer counting.

At 9:48 P.M. civic pride was officially restored to a town still reeling from the Eagles stunning decision to jettison star receiver DeSean Jackson. While the P.A. system blared that old favorite from better days gone by “Clap your hands, everybody for Philadelphia 76ers,’’ and the message board flashed “Sixers Win’’ in bold bright letters, the players gathered at center court, almost unsure what to do.

After all, when you’ve gone 59 days between victories, it has to seem strange to celebrate rather than commiserate when the buzzer goes off.