The dictionary lists three definitions for meltdown.
1. (in a nuclear reactor) The melting of the fuel rods as a result of a defect in the cooling system, with the possible escape of radiation into the environment;
2. (informal) A sudden disastrous failure with potential for widespread harm, as a stock-exchange crash;
3. (informal) The process or state of irreversible breakdown or decline: the community is slowly going into meltdown.
They might as well throw in another one, referring to the Indiana Pacers are their fourth quarter performances this season. Indiana blew a 16-point lead in Portland late Saturday night, and fell to the Trailblazers, 97-92. They had a four-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
The team is now through three of the four games they are playing out West, where it wraps up tonight in Denver. In all three games so far, they have held a double-digit lead, as well as a lead in the fourth quarter, only to lose every game.
Tonight in Denver they face a very hot Nuggets team that has not forgotten the 144 points the Pacers put on them back on November 9 at Conseco Fieldhouse. Carmelo Anthony shot poorly in that game, finishing with just 13 points. I predict he will more than double that performance tonight.
The Pacers have now lost four in a row, and are actually just 3-10 in their last 13 games.
It looks as though you can move that to 3-12 in their last 15, as they have tonight's game in Denver, then come home to face the Orlando Magic at Conseco Fieldhouse.
With last night's loss and the 76ers' win yesterday, the Pacers are now in ninth place in the East, officially outside looking in to the playoffs. This is an all-too-familiar position for this team. It seems as though they finish ninth or 10th every year, just missing the playoffs and getting the worst draft position in the lottery. Some things never change.
Both Danny Granger and Jeff Foster have commented on the problematic fourth quarter performances of this team. Last night, Granger said, "I just don't think we have the experience, honestly. Closing out games, it's not something that just happens. You have to be in a lot of those situations and you have to learn how to do it."
Foster had this to say about the state of the team: "I don't know if I can say I've been on a team like this, but it's a sign of an immature, young team that can't hold the lead." Thank you Jeff, couldn't have said it better myself.
The fact is, this team is running out of excuses for their poor performances. At this point, I would be more happy with them taking the Cavaliers' approach and just being awful, and everyone accepts that. There is nothing more frustrating that working up a big lead for three quarters of the game, only to blow it in the final quarter with players that seem scared or too nervous to even play.
I'm trying to decide which is worse, the choke jobs that the Pacers have had all season long, or the fact that they couldn't beat a Portland team that was without Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, Marcus Camby and Andre Miller. The Trailblazers are currently sitting in the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
The Blazers coach Nate McMillan slid Rudy Fernandez to point guard. He also put the taller Nicolas Batum on Darren Collison and surrounded big man LaMarcus Aldridge with shooters so the Pacers couldn't double team him in the post like they did in the first half.
Jim O'Brien had no answer for these moves.
It is a well-known fact that O'Brien does not like to play young guys. Such was the case with rookie Paul George last night. In just seven minutes in the first half, he had seven points and three rebounds. After that, O'Brien sat him on the bench for the rest of the game, while Brandon Rush played 24 minutes and didn't score a single point.
The fire is really heating up under O'Brien now, and with the probability of losing these next two games against the Nuggets and Magic, there will be more cries from fans to fire him.
Of course, Larry Bird will not fire him until the season is over, which just irks the fans even more. They don't want to pay for another coach while still paying O'Brien, and they are not confident enough in any of the assistant coaches on the bench.
At least Larry Bird was there and saw the same things that we all saw...I hope.
I would be shocked if this team comes out and plays with enough intensity and passion to win this game. They have been away from home for a week, and can not wait to get on that plane tonight and head back to Indy. They will likely finish this road trip 0-4, and the season will be halfway over. Tonight is game 41 of 82 for the Pacers.
The second half of the season for the Pacers begins on Wednesday when they face the Orlando Magic at home. They will not be one of the top eight seeds in the East, so they will have an uphill battle the second half of the season if they want to make it to the playoffs.
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