David West: Pacers have 'got to play better'

Team leader says nobody is too down, but players must find a way to win by executing better to snap 6-game losing streak.

When David West lowers his voice in postgame interviews, it’s an obvious indicator things aren’t going well for his Indiana Pacers.

The forward was understandably disappointed and shaking his head after Monday night’s 110-100 loss to the Houston Rockets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

A six-game losing streak has the Pacers (30-40) reeling in their late-season push for a playoff spot. The third-ranked defense has allowed 109.6 points in the last five games while the 24th-ranked offense has scored 97.4 points per game.

West, who has been trying to fight through a shooting slump, has averaged 8.2 points per game on 35.7 percent shooting during the losing streak. The 12th-year forward is averaging 11.9 points on 46.9 percent shooting, the best percentage among starters, for the season.

“Nobody is hanging their head or whatever,” West said. “We’re trying to keep each other encouraged and we try to right the ship.”

The Pacers visit the Washington Wizards (40-31) Wednesday, then travel to face the Milwaukee Bucks (34-36) Thursday. The Wizards have lost three in a row. The Bucks have dropped six in a row, just like the Pacers.

Difference is, the Pacers have been in this position too often. They lost six in a row after winning the regular-season opener. Losing streaks of eight and seven games came later. Then the team won seven in a row to surge into contention.

Any optimism has since waned with yet another skid.

“We just have to figure out a way to win a game,” West said. “We’ve got to execute better. We talked about screening a few days ago, we’re trying to screen better, we’re just trying to do what we do better. Everybody has got to play better. Everybody has got to bring it.

“It’s not getting any easier, playing these playoff teams, teams that have position or are fighting for position. We’ve got to meet the challenge.”

The Pacers are 10th in the Eastern Conference, but only one game behind the Boston Celtics (31-39), who for now own the eighth and final playoff spot. The Charlotte Hornets 30-39) are ninth. The Brooklyn Nets (29-40) are one-half game behind the Pacers. The sputtering Bucks (34-36) are just three games ahead of the Celtics. The Miami Heat (32-37) are seventh.

Indiana visits the Nets next Tuesday and the Celtics on March 31. The Hornets come to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 3 and the Heat are in Indianapolis on April 5. Those games essentially count double in the playoff race.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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