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Cavaliers 106, Pacers 97: Coming Up Short When It Counts

No foul? Yep, no foul called on this fourth quarter play.
2008 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Tell me if you've heard this one before. The Pacers were missing Jermaine O'Neal, Jamaal Tinsley and David Harrison. Mike Dunleavy and Travis Diener were playing on bum wheels. Yet, the team put together a real strong effort for the first 42 minutes of the game, trading offensive blows with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then, when it came time to decide a winner late in the fourth, the Pacers came up empty on possession after possession and never had a chance to win the game in the end. Result: Cavs win, 106-97.

Actually, you just have to go back two games to the Pacers' loss to the Boston Celtics to see the same story line play out. The dearth of late game production when the offense had been flowing is maddening.

With the game tied, 92-92, and 5:41 left to go, I jotted down a note. Who steps up? Marquis Daniels went into the lane and drew two free throws which he made. Good start, 94-92 Pacers.

But, that was it. The Pacers next few possessions ended on the front rim. Granger 3-ball? Short. Marquis jumper? Short. Granger 3-ball? Short. Diener 3-ball? Short. Dunleavy jumper? Short.

Meanwhile, Ziggy Ilgauskas was splashing "jumpers" as he scored seven of the Cavs ten points during the Pacers' clank fest.

Down 102-94 with 1:28 left and the game over, Danny Granger finally hit a 3-ball. The Cavs closed is out from there, finishing the final five minutes of the game on a 13-3 run. A better team with big time finishers took over the game and won. What are you going to do?

A few other thoughts from the game:
  • LeBron James put up the easiest triple-double I've ever seen. Danny Granger played solid defense on LeBron for most of the game and LeBron didn't seem interested in working too hard until late in the third quarter. Until then he was happy to drive and dish to teammates for open threes. But at 3:32 I thought, uh-oh, as LeBron forced the action and took the ball to the rim for the first time all night. He finished that 3:32 with eight points and was suddenly engaged in winning the game. And he
  • The Pacers do struggle to get calls and there were a couple of key calls down the stretch that really hurt. On one play, Travis Diener was standing about five feet out from the hoop as a rebound came off the rim. LeBron skied for the ball and jumped on top of Diener. Both came crashing to the floor, foul on Diener. Travis hadn't moved a muscle. O'B earned a T after that call as everyone watching could sense the game slipping away.
  • Earlier in the fourth, Danny Granger earned a warranted T. After flying in for a dunk, Larry Hughes went up and hammered Granger's arm sending Danny and the ball flying. No call. An incredulous Granger went to the other end and went up to block a shot at the rim. Foul. Outburst. T.
  • Enough pain and sorrow. Let's finish on a light note because, really, this is status quo unless a move is made tomorrow or some healthy bodies return. During the broadcast, QB and Denari had been discussing Drew Gooden's Abe beard and his growth wager with DeShawn Stevenson of the Wizards. As they came out of a time out, the cameras panned around the crowd at some big beards for comparison. Then they panned to the scruffy face of Travis Diener leading to some laughs and this exchange.
    Denari: He's (Diener) trying to grow a beard, got the side burns working.
    Buckner: Where? (pause) That's peach fuzz.