Adrian Wojnarowski goes out of his way to downplay a practice fight between Lance Stephenson and Evan Turner as something normal for the close quarters of an NBA team, but that's not going to stop observers from pointing to it as one symptom—or possible cause—of the Pacers' precipitous decline.
Indiana turned on the jets in the second half last night, hopping on Paul George's back and running away from the Hawks and salvaging a split of the first two games at home, so that'll hold off the vultures for a bit. Still, this isn't great news for the prospects of Pacers harmony holding up for the next couple of months:
Two Indiana Pacers dragged a cursing, cut Evan Turner out of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse court, untangling him from a practice-floor fistfight with teammate Lance Stephenson...Truth be told, there were probably Pacers willing to let Stephenson and Turner beat the dribble out of each other. Still, Luis Scola and David West finally grabbed an enraged Turner and separated Stephenson.
The Pacers are fascinating. Title co-favorites for much of the season, over the last month-plus they sort of forgot how to play the game. The Turner-for-Danny Granger move didn't pay off, nor did the signing of Andrew Bynum, and the underlying numbers said the team was bound for some regression, so there are lots of pure basketball reasons. But that's no fun, and when you get a collapse this drastic, it's natural to look for some off-the-court drama. Does half the roster owe the other half money after some apocalyptic game of boo-ray? Is everyone still embarrassed by some road orgy gone wrong? Maybe they just all hate each other? Can John Hollinger quantify how much they hate each other?