Indiana Pacers, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: Pacers imploding, Ant scoring, Tacko dancing and more

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Things seem to be going south in a hurry for the Indiana Pacers. On Tuesday, after an 11-7 start, they’ve gone 19-28 teetering on the edge of missing the playoffs and likely finished with a record below 0.500 for the first time in six seasons and just the second time this decade.

On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the head coach Nate Bjorkgren’s job may already be in jeopardy, just six months after he was hired to replace Nate McMillan. The implication is that Bjorkgren has lost the locker room and it looks like there may be some larger issues between the players and the coaching staff.

In last night’s loss to the Sacramento Kings, internal frustrations boiled over in an ugly way. Second-year center Goga Bitadze made a half-hearted defensive rotation and allowed an open lane for Mo Harkless to get an easy dunk. Assistant coach Greg Foster began letting him have it from the sidelines. Bitadze, a 27.8 3-point shooter, responded by hoisting one at the other end. As he ran back up court, cameras caught him clearly telling Foster to “sit the f**k down.”

Foster completely lost his cool berating Bitadze and needing to be held back by players and other coaches. At this point, it may not matter how the rest of the season goes for the Pacers. A very necessary change is coming.

Another triple-double for Russell Westbrook

Westbrook added another triple-double Wednesday night, bringing his season total to 33 and meaning he needs just three more in the 6 remaining games of the season for him to pass Oscar Robertson for the most all-time. He has already locked in a season-long triple-double average for the fourth time in five seasons. Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson are the only other players to have recorded 30 or more triple-doubles in a season. They each did it once, this is the third time Westbrook has done it. As I pointed out in this week’s power rankings, triple-doubles themselves may be overrated but Westbrook’s acquisition of them is definitely not.

Tacko Fall shines in garbage time

Tacko Fall is a fan favorite (let’s be honest, of all teams) but we get so few opportunities to meaningfully appreciate him. He’s played just 106 minutes this season and roughly two-thirds of them have come in low-leverage garbage time. But, the man does know how to make the most of the moment. With the Celtics carrying a 25-point lead into the fourth quarter against the Magic last night, Tacko got the chance for five minutes of run and he definitely made some highlights.

He showed off some fancy footwork, working his way through several defenders looking like shades of Hakeem Olajuwon.

And at the other end, he blocked the Magic on four consecutive possessions.

Moar Tacko Fall, please and thank you.

Anthony Edwards hits a new career-high

It wasn’t enough to get the win against the Grizzlies but Anthony Edwards raised the bar for himself again. His 42-point, 7-assist, 6-rebound effort was the best game of his young career by a decent margin. And it wasn’t just the points, it was the efficiency — he finished 17-of-22 from the field and 8-of-9 on 3-pointers. Edwards has put up some big point totals but he’s still pushing for efficiency. This was the 23rd time this season he’d attempted 20 or more shots in a game but just the sixth time he’d done so and made at least half of his shots.

At his current pace, Edwards will likely finish the season as the 52nd rookie of the 3-point era to average at least 18.0 points per game. Among that group, his current effective field goal percentage (48.0) would rank 36th. The good news for Timberwolves’ fans — his rookie effective field goal percentage would be better than that of Grant Hill, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. The area in which he needs to improve is clear but there’s an obvious path for him to follow.

#OtherContent

In this week’s NBA Power Rankings looks at the peaking Milwaukee Bucks, the Michael Porter Jr. show, Russell Westbrook’s triple-doubles and more.

The NBA has a problem in the way the defensive three seconds rule is applied and it’s fairly clear in the data.

Natalie White looked at women’s basketball sneakers and didn’t like what she saw. So she started her own brand.

This rookie class was supposed to be a dud, but it’s been surprising in myriad ways. Dan Devine checks in on the state of the group as their first season draws to a close.

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