Paul George spent more of his post-Game 4 press conference blaming the referees, but he also saved some shade for Lance Stephenson, who challenged LeBron before the game.
George in his postgame press conference, via ASAP Sports:
Q. You mentioned that maybe you need to watch what you say. Do you think that Lance’s comments took him out of the game at all today? He was scoreless until about almost halfway through the third quarter.
PAUL GEORGE: Yeah, maybe so. You know, maybe so. When you make comments regarding trash talking and just being caught up between another player in a matchup, you got to bring it. You got to bring it.
I’m pretty sure a lot of people were going to be tuned in to see what Lance was going to do because of what he said. Maybe there’s a lot of pressure on him. And everybody goes through situations where you just struggle. Just because of what was said and what was done, it just wasn’t a good time for him.
Roy Hibbert, who went scorless, via Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
“The game plan really wasn’t to utilize me as much; I’m just trying to be effective as I can,” Hibbert said. “Would I like a little bit more touches early on? Yeah. But that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes.”
There’s a fine line between making excuses and offering explanations. After each game, the media asks players and coaches to explain what happened. If they give an honest explanation that isn’t liked, the media will skewer them for making excuses.
Stephenson was probably affected by his rift with LeBron, and it’s reasonable for George to be upset by that needless distraction. That doesn’t excuse George for playing so poorly.
The Pacers didn’t go to Hibbert much early, opting to milk the David West-Rashard Lewis matchup (maybe even too often bypassing sound offense to exploit that mismatch). That doesn’t excuse Hibbert for disappearing.
Indiana’s All-Stars can play better. The rest of their team – Frank Vogel included – can perform better, too.
Those facts should be more independent of each other than they are. Before addressing issues out of their control, George, Hibbert and every other Pacer should look in the mirror and do what they can first.