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After Pacers lose late to Spurs, one question remains

The Spurs slipped by the Pacers in great game filled with runs by both teams fueled by great defense and better offense. But one 'What if?' continues to bother me.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Pacers frustrating loss to the Spurs on Monday night didn't help the their playoff pursuit. While Indiana came up short on the court, the game wasn't short on entertainment.

Early on, the two defensive-minded teams appeared headed toward a first-team-to-110 shootout. Up and down the court they went, cashing in buckets of all sorts combining for 58 points with just three combined turnovers.

Adjustments were made, a few times on both sides, as the lead and momentum swayed back and forth. The Pacers dominated after the half, but the Spurs made the final adjustment to go big down the stretch and take over the fourth quarter.

Anyone else have nightmare flashbacks of Scottie Pippen smothering Mark Jackson as Kawhi Leonard made life tough on George Hill down the stretch?

The Pacers didn't score for the final two and a half minutes of the game, but remained alive in a tie game as the Spurs set up their game-winning attempt with just over 20 second remaining. San Antonio went small and set up a drive and/or kick opportunity for Kawhi Leonard.

The Pacers had the play well defended, even after Leonard kicked the ball out to Marco Belinelli spotting up in the corner. The sharp shooter freed himself for the game-winner with a shot fake and released the shot with less than a second on the shot clock.


But, but, but...What if Rodney Stuckey didn't jump on the shot fake?

That is the question that has bothered me all day.

Stuckey was a little late recovering, but he actually closed out in time to contest the shot without jumping. Looking at the replay, it appears Belinelli was shot faking on the catch regardless, but when Stuckey went Superman, the game-winner was a dribble away for Belinelli.

While I appreciate the effort by Stuckey to go for a smothering block on the three-ball attempt, let alone his play throughout the game which put the Pacers in position to win late, I still wonder what would have happened had he just continued closing out to contest the shot from the ground.