#1 , gave George a max von vv1122365 21.12.2018 06:56

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Pacers bizarre season came to a familiar end Friday night. Another embarrassing loss at Miami. Now Larry Bird must spend the off-season trying to figure out what went wrong and what must be fixed to finally beat the Heat in the playoffs. "You just have to go into the off-season with the mindset that were going to reload. We have a core, a system, a culture thats going to give us a chance every year," coach Frank Vogel said after Fridays 25-point, season-ending loss. "Weve got to make whatever adjustments we have to make to come back and be here again next year." There are plenty of questions heading into what could be a turbulent off-season. Will Vogel be back after leading the Pacers to 42, 49 and 56 wins in his first three full seasons as coach, capturing back-to-back Central Division titles, reaching the last two conference finals and earning the No. 1 seed for only the third time in franchise history? Will the Pacers re-sign free agent Lance Stephenson, their 23-year-old energizer, whose erratic behaviour became a major distraction in the Eastern Conference finals? Could Hibbert be on the trading block after struggling through Indianas confounding second-half swoon and nearly disappearing, at times, during the playoffs? Might Bird make other moves to cope with the NBA trend of spreading the floor, add scorers or rebuild the bench yet again? Or do the Pacers simply need more time to mature? While those answers might not come for months, one thing is clear: They must find a way to get past Miami after three straight playoff series losses, the last two in the Eastern Conference finals. "Obviously, theyre more prepared, theyre more seasoned for this moment," David West said. "Theyve been able to embrace these moments to get to a level that we, for some reason, cant compete." Bird spent last summer revamping the bench, and Indiana responded with a 33-7 start — the best in the NBA. But after signing Andrew Bynum in February and trading Danny Granger for Evan Turner at the trade deadline, the Pacers went into a confounding second-half swoon in which they looked disengaged and disinterested. Two-time All-Star Paul George acknowledged Friday that the Pacers seemed to hit a wall, thinking they could turn it on whenever they needed it. Somehow, they still managed to finish with the best record in the East, rallied to win the final two games against eighth-seeded Atlanta after twice giving away home-court advantage and rallied again against a young Washington team after giving away home-court advantage in Game 1. When they did it again by failing to close out the Heat at home in Game 2, Miami responded by winning all three of its home games decisively to clinch the series. "You know at times it feels like were there, and then theres games where it still feels like were not at that point yet," George said when asked if he thought the Pacers had closed the gap on Miami. "Coach says it, I mean, in order for us to beat this team, weve got to play like champions. More times than not, we didnt do so." Most of the problems were self-inflicted. Indiana struggled with infighting, prolonged slumps, unseemly rumours and constant criticism. Hibbert epitomized much of it. In late March, he complained about "selfish dudes" in the locker room, a barb directed at Stephenson, later apologized and was so bad, at times, in the playoffs that fans and analysts called for his benching. And its unclear what the Pacers will do after a second straight blowout in an elimination game at Miami. Bird acknowledged the Pacers were going "all in" this season when they re-signed David West, gave George a max deal and traded away their first-round pick to get Luis Scola from Phoenix. Stephenson could be the next Pacers player to strike it rich. But after calling out LeBron James publicly before Game 4, blowing in his ear in Game 5 and tapping James on his chin early in Game 6, some wonder if the Pacers even want Stephenson back. It all depends on whether Bird thinks Stephenson can help beat the Heat. "I dont know what the future holds for us," West said. "Obviously, everything starts and ends with the Miami Heat. You have to have a team that can get through a tough regular season but ultimately, you have to be able to beat Miami to get to the finals." Shayne Gostisbehere Jersey . Messis father, Jorge Horacio Messi, is apparently still under investigation for an alleged 4 million euros ($5.3 million) in unpaid taxes from Messis image rights from 2007-09. Messis public relations firm confirmed Spanish media reports that the state prosecutor has asked for Messi to be dropped from the investigation that began in June 2013. 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Parker, who was born in Belgium but raised in France, said he didnt know at the time that "it could be in any way offensive or harmful.ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills have secured at least one half of their starting safety tandem after signing Aaron Williams to a four-year, $26 million contract extension Wednesday. A person with knowledge of the contract said Williams is guaranteed $14.625 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms were not released by the Bills. The extension locks up Williams through 2018, and comes at a time when the Bills risk losing three-time Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd, who is preparing to test free agency next week. "I told them I accept the role of leading this defence to where it used to be," Williams said. "Im just blessed that they gave me that opportunity, and they trusted me to be here long-term to get this team back to where it started." Williams, Buffalos second-round pick in the 2011 draft, was entering the final year of his contract. He was rewarded with the extension after successfully making the switch from cornerback to safety last season. In 14 games last year, Williams had a career-best 82 tackles and tied Byrd for the team lead with four interceptions. Overall, he has five interceptions and two forced fumbles in 34 career games. "Aaron is the type of young, core player we targeted early in the process to retain for years to come," general manager Doug Whaley said in a released statement. "We expect Aaron to continue to grow into a key contributor for the Bills organization.&quuot; The question is whether Williams will continue to develop alongside Byrd.dddddddddddd This week, the Bills decided against applying the franchise tag for a second consecutive year to retain Byrds rights, opening the door for the fifth-year player to test free agency on March 11. Williams is hoping the Bills can still reach a deal to re-sign Byrd, because the two established a solid on-field rapport last season. "If Jairus does come back, that would be the greatest thing ever, because our chemistry is unbelievable," Williams said. "If he doesnt come back, good luck to him. Were always going to be best friends. ... Well just have to move on and find another piece to try to replace his role." The Bills defence is undergoing another off-season change, with Jim Schwartz taking over as co-ordinator after Mike Pettine left to become the Cleveland Browns head coach. Schwartz has a similar aggressive defensive coaching philosophy, which is expected to ease the transition. "I feel real confident that nothing major is going to change," Williams said. "There might be a few things here and there, but I think team-wise, once we get all the pieces together we will be fine." The Bills also announced free-agent linebacker Jameel McClain had arrived in Buffalo to meet with team. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 245 pounds, McLain spent the past six seasons with the Baltimore Ravens before being released by the team last week. 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