Pacers 101 Magic 99: Pacers fail to give game away despite best efforts


Well, they almost blew it. Twice.

The Indiana Pacers held on to win Game 4 in Orlando and go up 3-1 on the Magic headed back to Indiana. The Pacers held a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, but a furious run by the Magic tied it behind some brilliant play at the rim by Glen Davis. But in the end, the Pacers just had too much and held on for the victory.

The Pacers have a lot to be worried about. They’ll likely finish off the Dwight-less Magic at home in Game 5. But this was yet another game where they couldn’t put away a team without any legit offensive weapons, relying on Glen Davis and Hedo Turkoglu. The Magic made smart plays, they made the right plays, they gave great effort, and in the end were a missed Glen Davis fadeaway (yes, that’s what SVG drew up out of a timeout) from tying the series up. But they weren’t. They shouldn’t have been that close, though.

Getting it done is getting it done, though, and there were some positive signs for the

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.