Each game is made up of elements that help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the previous night's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what led to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.
THE BIG ONE: PACERS CHOKE AGAINST HEATThe Indiana Pacers and their new teenage-looking coach Frank Vogel are hard to root against, as the sacking of Jim O'Brien immediately produced a four-game winning streak for a team that had only won four games in the month prior to his dismissal.
The winning came to an end -- and Vogel's undefeated head coaching record was finally tarnished -- on Tuesday night as the Pacers lost to the mighty Miami Heat on the road, 117-112.
The ending to this one was not only bizarre, it was fairly rare. Allow me set the scene.
With 8.9 seconds left, the Pacers have the ball on a side inbounds play in the frontcourt, trailing by three points, 115-112. The Pacers stacked four players in the middle of the court with guard Dahntay Jones inbounding the ball. Even without strong initial pressure on the ball, Jones couldn't find anyone, and he watched as Pacers forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. fired across the top of the key, as point guard Darren Collison shot into the near corner and as forward Danny Granger came directly to the ball. The only non-shooter on the court for Indiana, big man Jeff Foster, just stood stunned in the paint watching this car wreck unfold.
With all three possible options exhausted, Jones finally threw a bounce pass in to Granger, only to have the referee blow his whistle, signalling for a five second violation.
Man alive. How often do you see a five second violation on a potential game-winning, last second play? Not often.
Credit goes to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who had a small-ball defensive lineup in with guards Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade and a trio of forwards: LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Mike Miller to defend against the obvious three-point attempt. Chalmers didn't initially pressure the ball that hard, but as the clock started ticking he does move up, obscuring Jones' vision. Miller and James simply did their jobs, shadowing their men and not getting hung up on screens. Dwyane Wade probably had the largest role in causing the violation, sticking to Granger like glue, forcing Jones' delay and indecision because he was worried about a Wade steal from behind.
But we shouldn't go overboard in praising Miami. This wasn't a difficult to time catch-and-shoot situation. This was a standard late-game entry pass that the Pacers simply couldn't execute. Get. The. Ball. In. Bounds. They couldn't do it.
Miami cashed in on the mistake as the Pacers were forced to foul immediately and that was the ball game. Take a look at the play. Admire the meltdown.
GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:
LeBron James: 41 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists on 15-of-23 shooting in 42 minutes in a Miami Heat home win over the Indiana Pacers.
- Here's Ken Berger's latest on Carmelo Anthony.
- Kevin Garnett got called a grandma?
- Brandon Roy and Nate McMillan are telling two different stories about Roy's return.
- Your three-point contest selections.
- Aaron Brooks is not on the block?
Blake Griffin might put more people on posters, but nobody dunks in more photographic fashion than LeBron James. Watch out, below. My goodness. Two of his 41 points.