Referee conspiracy theories are everywhere in the NBA, but for fans who were victimized by Larry Johnson's four-point play almost twenty years ago, they seem to especially be amplified in Indiana.
The Pacers' sluggish first quarter and missed opportunities late ultimately cost them in last night's 100-97 loss in Cleveland. However, there were some questionable calls (or no-calls) that particularly drew the ire of fans.
Here are the two that most people had a problem with:
To be fair about this one, there was a Lance push-off on the other end a possession or two prior, so maybe the officials felt like it was a make-up to swallow the whistle here. Regardless, it's pretty egregious. Even if Lance oversold that a bit, a play like that should be automatic.
Ah, the old "fake, jump into a defender" move that Reggie Miller perfected. This was a big call because it came during a sequence when the Pacers were surging back into the game. The NBA has tried to clean this up recently - a shooter jumping to the side to initiate contact like this should technically be an offensive foul - but officials don't seem to call it correctly. I guess old habits die hard.
I'm not referee conspiracy guy. I don't think games are rigged. Do stars get favorable calls? Yes. Do refs miss calls, sometimes blatantly? Yes. I've seen the Pacers get jobbed in a playoff game before (trust me, I grew up a Knicks fan so I saw it firsthand), but I don't believe last night was one of those instances. Indiana's sloppy play down the stretch and lethargic start ultimately cost them in a game they could've easily won. If anything, last night's sub-par performance nearly leading to a commanding 2-0 series lead should bring you more encouragement about the rest of the series than anything else.
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