After Game 4, Paul George spent most of his press conference bemoaning the officiating. He got fined $25,000 for suggesting the free-throw disparity (Miami’s 34 attempts to Indina’s 17) was due to some “home cooking.”
He sounded like a child.
His team had just gotten waxed — straight blown out the building in a must-win — and here he was blaming external factors, not his team’s poor play. Regardless of what happened, you want a theoretical superstar to hold himself accountable there, taking himself and his team to task for falling down by 23 points.
Just listen to Chris Paul take personal responsibility for a loss after he was whistled for fouling a 3-point shooter late in a playoff loss to the Thunder. He didn’t agree with the call (plus he made two other egregiously bad plays late).
Paul George, on the other hand, just sat there in public and displayed the lack of accountability that has been glaringly and embarrassingly absent from the Indiana Pacers for months.
David West had some similar things to say, noting that their must be some “new rules” at play as a reason that the Pacers sent the Heat at the line so much.
Roy Hibbert, after the loss, wanted to talk about the game plan and his lack of touches as the reason that he scored 0 points for the fourth time in 17 playoff games this season. In two of those games, he didn’t get a single rebound either. But it is the game plan — which is in effect saying your coach — that is at fault.
In March, Hibbert’s bad play, in his mind, was also a product of the “selfish dudes” that populated Indiana’s locker room.
These are the three members of the Pacers who have played in an All-Star Game. And after losing their biggest game of the year, against the rival they waited all year to get another shot at, they blame others for their inability to get the job done.
But it isn’t just them.
One of the most inexplicable moments that stands out from Indiana’s late-season swoon came when Atlanta walked into The Fieldhouse on a Sunday evening and destroyed the Pacers. The final margin of defeat was 107-88, but the game was lost just a few minutes after tip off.
Still, late in the second half, Frank Vogel was over on the sidelines complaining vehemently to the officials. It happened on multiple occasions, and this wasn’t just the thing where a sly coach is talking out of the side of his mouth to someone who is essentially a coworker, hoping to make future hay about verticality or Paul George’s physical perimeter defense.
No, Vogel was exasperatedly reacting like a kid whose toy just broke, appearing to believe that a few free throws here and there had anything to do with his team being destroyed from wire to wire. It is one of the more embarrassing things I can recall from a post-All-Star break campaign — and there are plenty of options to pick from.
It was a top-down message that the way the team was playing was even remotely acceptable, and it set an example that blaming others for your personal failings is something that it is OK for adults to do.
Look, the Pacers have had to deal with some foul-related adversity in this series.
Game 4 marked the third straight game in which one of their starting five was forced to miss significant time on the bench with foul trouble.
In Game 4, it was Lance Stephenson and Roy Hibbert who had to sit. In Game 2, it was David West, who picked up his third foul in the first half on a play where LeBron James certainly exaggerated contact (but where there was definitely some contact … video in this post). In Game 3, it was Paul George.
The results have been a big setback for Indiana.