Los Angeles rode the crowd to victory, with Dwight Howard slamming a huge, game-clinching dunk in the waning seconds. In the process, the Pacers became the only current 40-win team with a home loss against the Lakers this season.
This home game in name only was obviously upsetting to the home team, and Hill spoke following the game. He had no problem calling out the fans for their horrible showing against L.A.
Hill went on a tirade, sparking an interesting debate over what should be expected from the fans of a top-tier basketball team (via The Indianapolis Star):
It sucks. It was 70 (Lakers fans) – 30 (Pacers fans) out there. These are the same people that wants autographs after the game. We’re out there in the community. We’re doing our job, doing what we’re supposed to do on and off the court. Something has to change. I tip my hat to this team. We’ve been trouble free. Been out in the community shaking hands, we’re winning. It shouldn’t feel like an away game, especially with an important like this. Tonight, that’s what it felt like.”
They always say your fans are your sixth man and you feed off that energy. Energy is down and we turn the ball over and we’re hearing cheers. We’re missing shots and we’re hearing cheers. That kind of brings your head down cause you know you’re at home. It shouldn’t be like that. Now we see how it is. We have to move forward, don’t worry about. Stay focus on what’s in this locker room and don’t worry about the rest.”
(We’re) not a team that’s in the bottom in the East. We’re one of the top three teams in the East. We’re winning the Central Division and it should show. Right now it’s not and it’s been all season long where it’s not showing and I don’t think there’s nothing else we can do as an organization and as players. Now it’s up to the community.
Hill's frustration seems to be absolutely on point.
The atmosphere in Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the Lakers was embarrassing from the Pacers' standpoint, and this team has been good enough to earn the city's support.
It does seem a bit unsavory to point out and expect something in return for supporting the community, but it's a fair point to make. This is a group of upstanding young men, hard-working basketball players and a team that is nothing like the group involved with the brawl in Detroit back in 2004.
Yet here the Pacers sit, 26th in attendance, but the second-most wins in the Eastern Conference. It would be stranger if nobody on the Pacers spoke up about this at some point.
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