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Pacers return to States after disappointing showing in London, prepare for Monday bout with New Orleans

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 12: Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers in action during the NBA match between Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets at the O2 Arena on January 12, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Riding high in the midst of a season-high 5-game winning streak, the Pacers spent the early part of last week joyously soaking in the atmosphere of their trip to London as a part of the NBA’s Global Games.

There was the debut of Paul George’s first signature Nike shoe. There was local fanfare surrounding the team all over the streets. Sightseeing across the city. The first overseas regular-season game in Pacers franchise history.

But, when the clock hit triple zeros at O2 Arena Thursday, the Pacers found themselves crashing back to Earth after an embarrassing blowout loss to the woeful Denver Nuggets.

“We didn’t show up [Thursday],” head coach Nate McMillan said, “and I don’t have a reason for that. Denver showed up and played well. We’re much better than what we showed.”

After five consecutive victories pushed the Pacers back ahead of .500, Indiana seemingly left any semblance of defense at home, giving up a staggering 140 points.

“We didn’t bring it defensively,” Glenn Robinson III said, clearly understating the obvious. “We didn’t play the same way that we’ve been playing, pressuring teams and having fun on defense. Really getting after it.”

Thursday’s demolition is just another in a  long line of lackluster performances this season by the Pacers, who have lost several games to below-.500 teams and still more losses of 20+ points.

At some point, the blame has to be directed further in the direction of head coach Nate McMillan.

In the case of a game overseas, the coach’s main job has to be to have the team focused and prepared to play as though it’s just another game. The Pacers were clearly the furthest thing from focused during Thursday’s drubbing.

As the season creeps ever-closer to the All-Star break checkpoint, Nate McMillan creeps ever-closer to having the Pacers on the wrong side of the playoff bubble coming into the stretch run.

By the same token, team leader Paul George must receive some blame as well. Scoring just 10 points in what was supposed to be a showcase game for the superstar is inexcusable.

George requested more of the workload back in December after the team felt disrespected by the officials in the midst of a tough stretch just prior to the winning streak, and had done well with it up to this point. But you have to wonder if the debut of his first signature shoe had anything to do with the performance.

On Monday night the Pacers will host New Orleans and budding star Anthony Davis in another matchup with a team well below .500.

It is imperative that Indiana stops losing to teams with such poor records if they are to distance themselves from the rest of the teams fighting for playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

If they fail to do so, George and McMillan could find themselves facing a lot more noise towards the end of the season.

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