2014 NBA Playoffs

Paul George Questions Officiating in Game 4 Loss to Miami Heat

MIAMI, FL - May 26: Paul George #24 of the Indiana Pacers addresses the media after Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on May 26, 2014. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice: Copyright NBAE 2014 (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2014

Someone definitely served Paul George some rancid home cooking before his postgame press conference Monday night.

That's the only explanation after digesting George's erroneous insight.

Minutes after the Indiana Pacers fell 102-90 to the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals and dug themselves a hole they're most definitely not going to climb out of, George was in a talkative, blame-the-referees kind of mood, per ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst:

It's just demoralizing when [the free throws are] lopsided. I mean, I'm sorry to say, but that was the case. How rare is it we shoot 50 percent, turn the ball over around 13 or so times, outrebound a team, and lose a ball game? I thought we did a great job. I just thought we did a great job. ... But, again, they made 30 free throws, and that put them over the edge.

The insinuations didn't stop there:

George's comments have a woe-is-me feel to them. Taken literally, they're representative of someone who didn't watch or play in Game 4, because the Pacers were anything but "great."

Indy's defense was bafflingly bad. It looked confused and lost, and visibly rattled whenever the Heat moved the ball, attacked or created mismatches.

Truthfully, the Pacers were also lucky. The final score in no way reflects the nature of this game. It should have been worse for the Pacers.

Much worse.

Update: Wednesday, May 28 at 12:25 p.m. ET

George knew he was going to be fined for his comments, and he was honest after he was popped $25K.

 

--End of update--

More than 55 percent of the Heat's shot attempts (38) were uncontested, according to NBA.com. Most nights, that's a homemade recipe for a disastrous blowout. But the Pacers were fortunate because the Heat converted under 40 percent of their wide-open looks. That's not going to happen again.

And yet, we're here—George was there—talking about free throws?

Come on.

MIAMI, FL - MAY 26: Paul George #24 of the Indiana Pacers battles for position against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2014 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Fl
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

In their Game 1 victory, the Pacers took 37 freebies to the Heat's 15. How's that for "home cooking?" They attempted more free throws than the Heat through Game 3 in Miami as well. Was that "road cooking?"

No complaints about the officiating or free-throw "discrepancies" were offered by the Heat following each of those games. They didn't bemoan the officiating after Game 1. There were no excuses, there was no displacing the blame.

More than anything, there was accountability, something Bleacher Report's Grant Hughes says the Pacers—George in this case—have yet to master:

And even more broadly, if the Pacers want to continue molding themselves into an elite team, they'll have to grow up, quit complaining and get to work.

Grousing about free-throw disparities is for 13-year-old superfans on message boards and irrational talk-radio devotees—not All-Star players who dream of someday winning a ring.

On some level, George has to know this. He cannot honestly believe what he's saying. His frustrations were mounting. Making excuses is part of the deflection process—a process that must be abandoned.

Game 5 is Wednesday night in Indiana. With the Pacers facing elimination, they can ill afford to wallow in their inferiority or disguise their struggles. To have a puncher's chance at completing this comeback, they, George included, must accept the truth.

"I thought we outplayed them," George said, via Windhorst. "They won this game at the free throw line."

No, Paul. The Heat won this game by being themselves.

They won this game by being the better team.

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