Fast breaks from the Pacers’ embarrassing, pathetic and utterly predictable Game Forfeit loss in Miami:
>> As bad as their performance was in the game, it was actually worse in the postgame. They blamed the officials. They actually had the utter ignorance of reality to suggest they somehow played well enough to win. What they did not do was step up like responsible adults and show some accountability.
>> Paul George: “Looking at the stat sheet, we outplayed them.” Looking at the stat sheet, I see five turnovers and three missed free throws from George, who scored nine of his 23 points after Miami had built a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter.
>> Paul George II: “I thought we did a great job. I just thought we did a great job. We rallied at the end to try to make a push. But, again, they made 30 free throws and they put them over the edge.” OK, I promise, no more quotes from George, because if you’re like me, they’re about to put you over the edge.
>> Even David West joined the pity party, referring to the “new rules” the Pacers learned. And he’s supposed to be the grown man in the room.
>> Miami built its tone-setting 23-13 first-quarter lead without the benefit of a free throw. The Heat took control of the game with a 7-0 burst at the start of the third quarter fueled by two George turnovers, not by whistles, that pushed the lead to 56-44. The Pacers never led, were never tied, and trailed 94-71 with 7:41 left. Outplayed them? Great job? New rules? Utter delusion.
>> Yes, the Pacers were out-shot 34-17 from the free throw line. Were there some bad calls? Of course. There always are, in both directions. But the bigger factor is Miami came out of the locker room – both to start the game and after halftime – at full speed, putting the unprepared Pacers squarely on their heels and keeping them there.
>> It should be noted the Pacers have shot more free throws than the Heat (94-87) in the series, and that after Game 1, in which Indiana enjoyed a 37-15 advantage at the line, there was not a word of protest from the Miami locker room about the officiating. Coach Erik Spoelstra and the players looked inward, blaming their own poor defense for the Pacers’ 107-96 victory. And they haven’t lost since. This is how adults behave.
>>As for that defense that is supposed to be the Pacers’ calling-card, it, too, only showed up on the stat sheet because it was nowhere in evidence on the court. James scored 32 and shot 13-of-21. Chris Bosh joined the fray with 25 easy points, his most in a playoff game since 2011. Though the Pacers can light up some cigars over holding the Heat below 50 percent shooting for the first time in the series, they would do well to remember Miami’s percentage was deflated by a rash of late misses after the game was out of hand.
>> There was plenty of culpability to go around. Frank Vogel looked silly with his use of the little brother-big brother metaphor to try to motivate his team. All that produced was a big brother that punched little brother in the mouth and stole his lunch money, and a little brother that not only didn’t fight back, but ran crying to mommy.
>> Vogel also waited far too long to take a look at a small lineup, which produced the only sign of life the Pacers showed all night, a 19-5 run that made the final margin less embarrassing, filled the box score with deceiving numbers and gave the players the false impression that they didn’t get their butts kicked up and down the floor most of the night. So maybe it was a bad thing, after all.
>> Roy Hibbert was scoreless for the fourth time in the postseason. Vogel blamed foul trouble.
>> Lance Stephenson, otherwise known as the guy that poked the bear, didn’t make a bucket until 5:33 remained in the game. Vogel blamed foul trouble.
>> Nobody blamed Stephenson directly, but George, well, you read and decide:
“You know, Lance is young, and that’s a teaching point. That’s a learning lesson for him. Sometimes you’ve got to watch what you say. You’re on the big stage. Everything we say is going to be bulletin-board material. It’s really going to have a powerful meaning behind it. We’ve just got to be smarter with situations and just voicing our opinions sometimes.”
>> Yes, Paul, you do.
>> The Pacers trail 3-1 not because of the officials but because of themselves, their own combination of overdeveloped ego and underdeveloped maturity. They have learned nothing from their years of beatings at the hands of the champions. They keep repeating the same mistakes, producing the same maddening results and washing them all down with the same bitter whine.
>> There is no shame in losing to one of the best teams in NBA history but, with their absurd performance before, during and after Game 4, the Pacers found plenty.