The Pacers have done a lot of talking in the recent past about their desire to be a consistent, hard-nosed team that nobody wants to play. Backing up that talk has always been a problem, though as they have performed on a broad continuum from "able to beat anyone" on one end to "how in the world will they beat Portland" on the other.
Accountability for slipping toward the latter has been weak, as well. This season David West is doing his part to raise the level of accountability in the locker room. After a horrid performance in Orlando, West spoke harshly, essentially holding up a mirror for he and his teammates to look into.
West then went out and helped spearhead an effort that rid the Pacers of that helpless feeling after the hapless effort they gave in Orlando.
"We've got an identity where we want to be a good team," West said after beating Portland. "We want to be considered a good team but you've got to be willing to compete and bring it the same way against everybody."
The Pacers played like that good team they strive to be last night and did so with a strong defensive effort. While there were a lot of fouls, there weren't a lot of good open looks for the Blazers.
"We were being very aggressive defensively," West said. "Portland is a dangerous ball club and I thought we did a good job of being professional and handling them in terms of how we approached the game and had the right attitude."
So now the Pacers have a chance to back up a good performance against a struggling team with that same level of effort against a strong Philadelphia team. W's are vital this time of year as is the chance to send a message to a possible playoff opponent.
"Especially after the All-Star break which is the period that we're in now, games mean a whole lot," West emphasized. "We've got an opportunity to improve tomorrow (against Philly) and get better tomorrow and it is just what we have to do."
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