Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pacers Beat LeBron on a Make-up Call

Heh. These referees.

With about 20 seconds remaining and the game tied at 93, the Pacers start a possession that either gives them the win or sends the game to overtime. Point guard TJ Ford, guarded by former teammate/playing time rival and newly-minted All-Star Mo Williams, dribbles out most of the clock and makes a clutch mid-range shot, leaving 0.8 seconds in the game. Classic stuff. Watch for it on NBA TV's Top 5 plays.

All the Pacers have to do is stop one hurried Cleveland shot and they've got the win. The Cavs run a play that where they lob the ball to LeBron. Pacers star Danny Granger reads it perfectly and taps the ball away. Game over.

But not quite.

Cause the referees call a foul on Danny G. Now, this is crazy stuff because Granger made a great read on the play and if there was more than the usual incidental contact, well -- it's not enough to make up for the fact that the reason why James doesn't finish the play is because of Granger's defense and not because of contact. Interesting to note is the observation of the TV commentator (gotta apologize, I'm not sure which network I was watching) that the referee doesn't call the foul until LeBron complains about it. So with .2 left on the clock, the King steps up to the free throw line to send the game to extra minutes. He makes both.

Now, by this time, I'm kind of feeling for the Pacers. I'm a Bulls fan, so it's in my best interest for Indiana (a team in contention for the same final playoff spot my Bulls are aiming for) to drop this game. But I can't help it. I feel like these guys were robbed by a superstar call.

So what do the Pacers do?

They do the same thing Cleveland does. They send a lob in Granger's direction, with James defending. There's contact, as you can expect. And the referees? They call it the same way they did on the other end of the floor. Foul on James. Free throws for Danny. He ices the game with the first one and takes an intentional miss to run out the clock. Pacers win by one.

Mike Brown was complaining about the call, but as the announcers pointed out -- how can you complain about the call when they give you the exact same one on the other end? Way to put pressure on the refs, Jim O'Brien. They had no choice but to call it that way. Great play call by the Pacers coach, great execution by Pacers first-time All-Star. Gotta love it, even if you're rooting for the opposite team.

By the way, the Pacers have beaten the Lakers, the Celtics, the Magic and now, the Cavs on their home floor. Is it fair to start calling them a good team now (though should that still come with this asterisk)?

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