Well that's not something you see everyday. Foul trouble for LeBron James limited him to only 24 minutes in the Heat's 93-90 loss to the Pacers in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals. He shot only 2-10 from the floor and scored seven points in one of the worst performances of his playoff career. Despite his off night, James made a big three pointer to tie the game at 81 with just under four minutes left after the Pacers had built an 11 point fourth quarter lead.
From there, the Pacers struggled to stay in front, but several big shots by Paul George, and some late Doug West free throws were enough for them to hang on and force a game six back in Miami.
James will be one of the headlines from this game; the other will be the brilliant play of Paul George, who finished with 37 points and six steals. He scored 21 in the 4th quarter, when he absolutely took over the game and willed the Pacers to a win. It looked bad for the Pacers early, as the Heat once again dominated the 2nd quarter behind some ferocious defense, holding Indiana to 11 points in the quarter and taking an nine point advantage into halftime. A big third quarter by the Pacers fueled by their defense and George's 10 points gave them a lead, and George took over from there.
It was the performance Pacers fans have been waiting for from George, who has seemed somewhat passive through much of the post-season, allowing Lance Stephenson and Doug West to drive most of the Pacers offense. But with the team struggling to score and needing a win, George took over. He was incredible defensively, with six steals and constant disruption of the Heat offense, and he was aggressive shooting the ball, as he attempted 14 three pointers (making five, all in the 2nd half). It was a dominant performance, the likes of which we usually see from the guy in the other uniform.
Game six will be on Friday night.
The Spurs are back home and need to find a way to stem the tide, as the Thunder have won the last two games in this series in convincing fashion. The return of Serge Ibaka from injury has galvanized the Thunder, and they have clamped down defensively using their length and athleticism to cut off driving lanes and close out on the Spurs shooters. The change from the first two games is remarkable, and the Spurs need another turn around tonight at home to get back on top in this series.
Russell Westbrook was a monster in game four, scoring 40 points and dishing 10 assists while hounding Tony Parker all over the floor. It was the best of Westbrook, and the Spurs have to hope he doesn't have another one like that in him. Kevin Durant was almost an afterthought with 31 points of his own, but they were the only two Thunder in double figures. Reggie Jackson turned his ankle early in game four, which could wind up being a factor as the Thunder really need additional scorers as this series proceeds.
Tonight is a pivotal game in a series that is resembling 2012, when the Spurs won the first two, only to lose four straight to a Finals bound Thunder team. The Spurs will look to change that this year, starting tonight.
- Shelly Sterling is taking offers (which the NBA doesn't want her doing), Donald Sterling is vowing to fight the forced sale. I have no idea what's going on with the Clippers.
- The coaching search has hit a public wall, as we've heard nothing about candidates or interviews since Dave Joerger made his deal to stay in Memphis. Local speculation sees Flip as ever more likely to take on the job himself. That's a bad idea, but we'll see what happens.
1765: Patrick Henry denounces Stamp Act: "If this be treason, make the most of it!"
1790: Rhode Island becomes 13th and last state of the original colonies to ratify constitution
1848: Wisconsin becomes 30th state. Hells to the yeah. Go Badgers.
1916: U.S. troops invade Dominican Republic, stay until 1924
1922: Supreme Court exempts baseball from anti-trust law
1942: Bing Crosby records White Christmas
1953: Edmund Hillary reaches the summit of Mt. Everest