The top-seeded Indiana Pacers may have tied their Eastern Conference opening round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks at 1-1 Tuesday night, but things appear to remain far from harmonious in their long fractured locker room.
“We’ve been on the ropes a little bit,” West told Yahoo! Sports. “Every team goes through that. But I thought we did a great job of dealing with whatever issues we had. The great thing about this group has always been that we’re very open with one another, always been able to get through the ups and downs of a long NBA season.”
Such close and personal encounters certainly come as nothing new for the brash, ever-talkative Stephenson. Since entering the league four years ago, the 23-year-old New Yorker has gotten under the skin of both teammates and opponents alike, including even once flashing the choke sign at LeBron James when he missed a late game, critical free throw.
The Pacers acquired Turner at the February trade deadline in a deal that sent popular veteran forward Danny Granger to Philadelphia and since arriving in Indiana the No.2 overall pick in the 2010 draft has struggled to figure out the Pacers’ way of doing things.
Not that he’s been alone of late, as Indiana struggled to a 13-13 regular season finish with All-Star center Roy Hibbert complaining about touches and the “selfish” nature of his teammates. Over his last nine regular season games, the 7-foot-2, 290 pound Hibbert averaged just seven points and four rebounds.
It’s all enough to have some wondering if the Pacers will have enough time to effectively rebound for the serious playoff push many were once expecting, even given with their 101-85 Game 2 win.
“I’m just trying to make the right plays here,” Turner told Yahoo Sports. “Some nights I get two shots, some nights I get 10 or 12. I’m trying to get acclimated.” But even as Turner seemed to be trying to defuse the situation by saying all the right things, Stephenson was busy being, well, Stephenson.
“I’m definitely a trash-talker coming from New York, we talk trash all the time,” he said. “That was built in me when I was young.”