- Author of Waller's manuscript rewarded for helping feds (1/13/18)
- Police: Man dies from self-inflicted gunshot after standoff in south Cape (1/14/18)3
- Word to your superintendent: Glass rocks Vanilla Ice parody to announce cancellation (1/13/18)3
- Here's what's being built next to Chick-fil-A in Cape (1/18/18)1
- Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes commitment to community at annual awards banquet (1/13/18)
- Church, businesses set up pop-up homeless shelter as winter storm approaches (1/12/18)1
- Plaintiffs' attorney wants jury to see basement steps at Cape courthouse (1/10/18)
- City of Oran water rates violate state law, auditors find; report details financial-management problems (1/13/18)2
- Poultry in motion: 4-H participants take first in nation with barbecue skills (1/13/18)1
- Cape man wins Scratchers lottery top prize (1/12/18)
Thomas says officials are part of Pacers' problem
INDIANAPOLIS -- Injuries, suspensions and off-court distractions are only part of the reason the Indiana Pacers have struggled recently.
Coach Isiah Thomas blames the officials.
Thomas accused them of targeting the Pacers and making more calls against Indiana than they normally would -- especially volatile forward Ron Artest
"We've been very silent about this. We've tried to work the right way, but I think our guys are getting penalized unfairly," Thomas said Thursday.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank denied any bias.
"I think that's a pretty unfair accusation," Frank said. "Our officials call every game based on a set of rules everybody is familiar with. Our officials, every game out, do the best job they can. To accuse them of bias or treating them differently is unfair to the officials."
Artest was called for a flagrant foul against Philadelphia on Wednesday night for tackling Eric Snow. The foul gave Artest seven flagrant foul points, earning him another one-game suspension.
It is Artest's fifth suspension of the season -- four issued by the NBA and one by the Pacers.
Another flagrant foul, and Artest will receive a two-game suspension.
"I know it's just an unfortunate situation," Artest said.
Indiana's physical play, which has earned the team comparisons to Thomas' Bad Boy Detroit Pistons' clubs, has officials on edge, Thomas said.
"They are coming to the game, not with the purpose of calling the game, but with the purpose of just controlling the Pacers and making sure things aren't getting out of control," Thomas said.
The season is quickly getting spiraling out of control for Indiana.
The Pacers have lost six straight games, 12 of 13 and 10 straight on the road, and are 5-15 since a 33-12 start, the team's best since joining the NBA for the 1976-77 season.
The Pacers played with confidence and cohesiveness earlier this season, getting double-figure scoring from five or six players per game. They were talking championships, and Jermaine O'Neal boldly -- or foolishly -- predicted 65 wins.
That talk has disappeared. Indiana held a team meeting following Tuesday night's loss to New Orleans to address concerns about selfishness. Thomas said players had become "self absorbed" and weren't thinking about the team.
"You've got to get back to being a good team and trusting and respecting your teammates," Thomas said.
Getting back to that level has been made more difficult by injuries and off-court distractions.
O'Neal missed two days of practice after his stepfather was hospitalized with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Jamaal Tinsley has missed two games and will be out indefinitely to be with his ailing mother. Austin Croshere missed the last three games of a recent West Coast road trip due to the death of his father-in-law.
"I wouldn't necessarily say that's been the cause, but I think that's added to it," Thomas said.
The lineup is in flux due to injuries. Brad Miller has missed two games with a sore left foot; Reggie Miller sustained a right thigh bruise Wednesday, and Jonathan Bender, who's spent most of the season on the injured list, bruised a bone in his left leg against the Sixers.
Reggie Miller said Thursday he was still sore, but refused to blame injuries for the team's downturn.
"We can't use it as an excuse. We've got to fight out way out of this and it's the only we're going to get through it," he said.
The Pacers have a caught a small break. The two teams they are chasing in the Eastern Conference have also endured lengthy losing streaks. Detroit and New Jersey have lost seven of their last 10, leaving the Pacers three games behind the Pistons in the Central Division.
Philadelphia and New Orleans beat the Pacers this week on consecutive nights and moved into contention. The Sixers are 12-2 since the All-Star break and the Hornets have won eight of their last 10.
Homecourt advantage, made even more important by the Pacers' 25-5 record at Conseco Fieldhouse, could be slipping away. Indiana has struggled on the road, going 13-22.
"This is our first time experiencing this type of uncertainty, this type of lack of trust," Thomas said. "How we come out of it, how we build from this, I think that's the lesson we learn."