A modern-day version of Aesop's Fables played out at Conseco Fieldhouse on Monday night, where the Indiana Pacers gave up firm control of their game against the Charlotte Bobcats before hanging on to win, 104-103.
Stephen Jackson has been The Boy Who Cried Wolf all season, compiling mass amounts of technicals along with $180,000 in fines while constantly begging for calls and berating officials. In one of the more discombobulated and ugly finishes to an NBA game you will ever see, Jack was left 30 feet from the bucket at the final buzzer with his hands up, begging for a call after trying to draw contact with Darren Collison. A friendly whistle for Jackson would've given him three shots to make the two points Charlotte needed to complete a comeback win.
But there was no call.
After spending the season (well, career) flailing and yelling and begging for calls that weren't legit, the referees couldn't tell the difference when Jack needed a call the most. The refs certainly didn't give Jack the benefit of the doubt, even if he had a pretty good case.
Depending on the angle of the replay, the call could've gone either way. From the side, it appears that Collison is backing off and Jackson is lunging toward him trying to create contact. From behind, Collison's arm comes down and appears to hit Jack's arm, even though from the side it doesn't quite sync up. Honestly, I stopped watching it after a couple of times through because the W is in the books regardless. Just keep that in mind as the play is over-analyzed tomorrow.
This was a huge win for the Pacers giving them the tie-breaker over Charlotte just in case the teams tie for the final playoff spot in the East. The Pacers gave three and a half quarters of strong play before Charlotte extended their pressure which the Pacers struggled to handle. But some key free throws and a little wink from the basketball gods, preserved the win and left the Pacers with some inexpensive lessons to learn from in order to improve.
After the jump, more thoughts and observations on the game action.
- Once again, the Pacers jumped out to a big start offensively, scoring 58 first half points with lots of contributions throughout the roster. Darren Collison, Roy Hibbert and Josh McRoberts made several plays to get things going as the Pacers seemed like a much better team in the first half.
- Despite controlling the action though three quarters, the Pacers struggled to extend their lead much past 10 points. It constantly seemed like they were about to burst through and put Charlotte down 20 and ease it on home with a nice win. Charlotte kept hanging around though and their long players created havoc when they extended pressure late in the game causing several turnovers.
- The Pacers only had 13 turnovers but four of those came in the last six minutes helping to energize the Bobcats in their quest to steal the W. Mike Dunleavy played with some strange body language in the second half and had two of those turnovers on head-scratching passes. One with about six minutes to play when it looked like the Pacers were ready for the knock out. Having just gone up 10 on a nice play from McRoberts to Hibbert, Dunleavy grabbed a defensive rebound. Instead of taking care of the ball and the 10-point lead, Dunleavy wound-up a baseball pass to a streaking Danny Granger. Gerald Wallace had plenty of time to jump the route and take the ball the other way. Eduardo Najera drained a 3-ball to cut the lead to seven. Within a minute, Darren Collison turned it over twice and the Pacers' lead was down to 2 points.
- Charlotte did tie the game up at 102 but never ended up taking a late lead. For the crazy finish, the Pacers were up one with the ball and a four second difference between the shot clock and game clock. Darren Collison tried to put the Pacers up three but his little 10-footer went in and out. Gerald Wallace grabbed the rebound with seven seconds left and while everyone waited for a timeout, Wallace kept advancing the ball, finally getting it to Jackson who tried drawing the foul. One seriously messy finish for both teams.
- Roy Hibbert had another monster game, matching his career-high with 29 points while grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking 2 shots. Strong night in the post, as Hibbert made 12 of 19 shots and continued to maintain his shooting rhythm with either hand.
- After the game, Frank Vogel mentioned that one thing that has helped Hibbert's play around the basket are his morning one-on-one games with Vitaly Potapenko which started before he coaching change. The games are pretty tough and there's only one rule: Hibbert can only score if he dunks the basketball.
- Josh McRoberts was a play-making machine. He flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 12 points (including a big tip, late), 9 rebounds and a career-high 7 assists. One of those assists came after he controlled possession following a botched alley oop. On the baseline, he suddenly slung a behind the back, bounce pass to Hibbert under the hoop for a dunk. He also had a sweet flush on an alley oop pass from A.J. Price. Both plays should show up on any reputable highlights show.
- Danny Granger had a pretty efficient offensive night, scoring 25 points with 4 assists and 3 rebounds. In the third quarter, Gerald Wallace couldn't contain Granger's dribble which opened up plenty of scoring opportunities for 33. My favorite play of the night for Granger was when he got down and dug out a defensive rebound that was initially in the hands of a Charlotte player. At the other end he cashed in a 3-pointer. Granger scored 11 of his points in the third, but only came up with two points in the fourth quarter.
- The starters carried the load in this game as the bench struggled in the second half. The second unit did show up well in the first half, including a nice 7 minute run by A.J Price when he scored 6 points with 2 assists and 3 rebound while not turning the ball over.
- Really a strange feeling being on the winning side of one of these games when everything appeared to be falling apart. With the W, though, the Pacers end up having a wonderful night. Not only did they pick up a game on Charlotte, but Milwaukee, Philadelphia and New York all lost as well.