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Things are not going well in Indianapolis.
That was more than evident in the Pacers’ 104-93 loss to the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night after assistant coach Greg Foster erupted on center Goga Bitadze in the third quarter.
The altercation led to the Pacers suspending Foster for a game and fining Bitadze. The team announced the news Thursday afternoon. Foster will serve the suspension during Thursday's game against the Atlanta Hawks.
“We’re in a frustrating stretch here,” head coach Nate Bjorkgren said Tuesday night, via the Indianapolis Star. “A lot going on with the challenges of navigating through a season. The competitive juices are flowing and things like that will happen.”
Pacers assistant lights up Goga Bitadze
The incident took place in the third quarter after Kings forward Maurice Harkless drove through the lane and threw down a dunk over Bitadze, who just stopped and watched it happen at the rim.
Bitadze then hit a 3-pointer at the other end on the next possession. As he was running back down the court to play defense, he appeared to turn to Foster and tell him to “sit the f*** down.”
That didn’t sit well with Foster, who erupted and started screaming at Bitadze as soon as the play was dead and the game went into a timeout.
Bitadze finished the night with five points and six rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.
“I’ve talked to both of them about it, absolutely, and I’m going to talk to them more about it right after this,” Bjorkgren said, via Full Access Pacers. “I’m going to find out exactly what was said and in what way, and go from there … Again, they’re both trying so hard. They’re both competitive. They both want what’s best for the team. It just didn’t happen that way. With the frustration part of it, it boiled over there a little bit.”
Bjorkgen on hot seat
Wednesday’s dust up came as Bjorkgren is apparently facing an uncertain future in just his first season with the organization.
Bjorkgren was hired to replace Nate McMillan, and — despite leading the Pacers to just a 30-35 record — is in ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings and on pace to earn a spot in the new postseason play-in.
The coach, though, has “significant work to do” with players and other members of the organization, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. His coaching style and communication is being blamed in part for the team’s struggles this season, too.
While Wednesday’s on-court feud won’t be a determining factor on Bjorkgren’s job on its own, it certainly doesn’t help — and provides a very clear look at how things are shaking out within the organization.
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