It's hard being a Pacers fan. I mean, really hard. They continue to find new and creative ways to defeat from the jaws of victory, most often in close games against bad teams. The Pacers have dropped five or their last eight games, and four of those losses were to sub-500 teams. In fact, here's a rundown of their last five losses:

1. An 88-83 road loss to the Detroit Pistons (49-11): Don't let the 5-point margin fool you; this was a blowout. The Pacers turned the ball over 22 times which resulted in 30 points for the Pistons, who led 85-65 before clearing their bench with six minutes to go. The Pistons were no doubt inspired by the brash and foolish words uttered by Jermaine O'Neal over the All-Star weekend (i.e., that he hoped the Pacers would face the Pistons in the first round of the playoffs). Be careful what you wish for, Jermaine. Especially, you know, when you're not even playing.

2. A
117-112 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks (20-39): The Hawks are a team you just expect to beat. They aren't even like a real team. They have a couple above-average players, and that's it. But that didn't stop them from storming into Conseco Field House and winning the game in overtime. Joe Johnson went berzerk, erupting for 40 points and 13 assists, and former Pacer Al Harrington had 22 points and 9 rebounds. I wish I could say it was a fluke, but the Hawks are 3-0 against the Pacers this season.

3. A
99-98 road loss to the Boston Celtics (26-35): Paul Pierce scored 38 points, and he capped his scoring explosing with a banked three-pointer with 39 seconds left to break a 96-96 tie. The Pacers got another meaningless hoop, but Pierce's shot effectively won the game. The Pacers actually had a 12-point lead in the third quarter, but a killer 23-8 run gave the Celts a 3-point lead going into the forth. The Pacers never recovered.

4. A
107-92 home loss to the New York Knicks (17-43): The Knicks have the worst record in the league for a reason. And that reason is this: they're terrible. Just terrible. Human words can't describe the Frankenteam that Isiah Thomas has put together in the Big Apple. This is a team I would expect the Pacers to beat anywhere, but especially at home. I mean, the Knicks had lost 22 of 24 on the road going into this game...and they didn't just win, they blew the Pacers out of the water. Jalen Rose woke up from his coma to score 21 points (on near-perfect 7-11 shooting) and dish out 8 assists. Just an awful, inexcusable loss.

5. A
103-99 road loss to the Houston Rockets (29-33): The Rockets were 1-13 this season when playing without their leading scorer Tracy McGrady. So it seemed like good news for the Pacers when McGrady injured his back and had to sit down midway through the third quarter. The Pacers even led 86-69 with three minutes left in the third, so it should have been academic. It wasn't. Yao Ming scored a season-high 38 points, the heretofore MIA Rafer Alston dealt out a season-high 14 assists, and the Pacers started shooting blanks in the fourth quarter, scoring only eleven points and letting the game slip away.

With the exception of the Pistons game, these are the kind of losses that haunt a team. At the end of the season, they could mean the difference between making the playoffs and watching from their 75-foot yachts. At the very least, the losses will affect their playoff seeding. I can't help but feel like all this is Ron Artest's fault, but I know the real reason is that God hates the Pacers. I just don't know why.
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