Hill Would Like to See More Blue-and-Gold
by Scott Agness
March 16, 2013, 2:07 AM
As the media funneled into the Pacers' locker room after their 99-93 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, George Hill sat across from his locker, in the corner talking with Roy Hibbert.
He was pointedly talking loud enough about his disappointment in the fans for all to hear. As the media first surrounded David West two lockers down, Roy Hibbert quickly spoke up. He wanted to keeps Hill's comments off the record, but Hill didn't mind.
"Somebody needs to say it," he said passionately. "I'll say it."
So minutes later, he did.
"It sucks, man. 70-30 out there," in regards to the amount of Lakers fans in the building compared to those supporting the Pacers. Friday night’s game was the Pacers’ sixth sell-out of the season.
"We're out there in the community, we're doing our job, doing what we're supposed to do – on and off the court – and something has to change. I tip my hat to this team. We've been trouble-free. We've been out in the community shaking hands and we're winning. It shouldn't feel like an away game, especially with an important game like this. Tonight, that's what it felt like."
Hill attested that the players absolutely hear the crowd and it plays a factor in a game.
"You recognize that. They always say, 'your fans are your sixth-man,' and you feed off that energy. If the energy’s down when we turn the ball over, we're hearing cheers or we're missing shots and we're hearing cheers. That kind of brings your head down because you know you’re at home and it shouldn't be like that. But, now we see how it is and we have to move forward, don't worry, and stay focused on what's in this locker room."
This season, the Pacers are 26th in the league in attendance, averaging 14,983 per game. That's about 3,000 under capacity, but is 815 more per game on average than last season per ESPN.com.
Several of the players, including Hill, are doing what they can to help bolster attendance. Roy Hibbert buys 55 season-tickets for 55 fans. Hill and Paul George teamed up last season to form the G2 Zone. After the Richmond Hill neighborhood dealt with tragedy and the loss of their homes, Hill voluntarily invited them out to a game and met with them postgame.
Oh yeah, and they're winning. The Pacers (40-25) have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and are four and a half games ahead of Chicago in the race for the division.
"We've done everything we can. We've got out in the community, shook hands, taking pictures, kissed a couple of babies. We're winning. This is not a team that's [at] the bottom of the East. We're one of the top three teams in the East. We're winning the Central Division and it should show. Right now, it's not and that's been all season long."
Just a few weeks ago, Hill along with Hibbert and Paul George hosted their zones down to the Fieldhouse for a night full of interaction with the fans.
Hill is announced to the home crowd as "the hometown hero." But, his frustrations with the fans, or lack thereof at games, have boiled over.
"I don't think there's nothing else we can do as an organization and as players. Now, it's up to the community."
Despite his disappointment, Hill recognized they lost the game due to mental errors and a lack of execution, not anything else.
“[We made] mental mistakes. We’d been talking all game long about staying home on the shooters ... We just didn’t do the job tonight, made mental errors and it bit us in the butt."
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