Late in the fourth quarter of Game 2 between the Spurs and the Grizzlies, San Antonio was clinging to a four-point lead with under 30 seconds remaining. Manu Ginobili was double-teamed by Zach Randolph and Tony Allen, and lost the ball to Randolph, who flipped it ahead to Allen for what was sure to be a layup that would have cut the lead to two.
Ginobili caught up with Allen, and did the right thing by committing a foul to make sure that the points would have to be earned at the free throw line. What Allen did following the foul was disgraceful, and may have helped the referees decide to rule it as a flagrant foul, which comes with it possession of the ball after the two free throw attempts.
As soon as Allen hits the deck, he lays on his back for a brief moment, before clutching his head and rolling around as though he were just shot. Replays show that neither his head nor his neck hit any part of the floor during the fall, and this was a clear acting job to try to sell the foul as being harder than it actually was.
The referees reviewed the play and upheld the flagrant foul call. The result was Allen sinking both free throws, and on the following possession which was awarded because of the flagrant, Mike Conley scored what turned out to be the final points of regulation with 18 seconds left to send the game into overtime.
It’s worth noting that this might have been ruled a flagrant foul even without Allen’s intentional exaggeration of the contact. Ginobili grabbed Allen’s off arm and pulled him to the floor, which the referees very well may have determined to be excessive in that situation. His flop after the fact certainly didn’t hurt his chances, although it would be nice to see the league recognize this for what it was and give him a fine for his actions.
The Grizzlies were just 2-of-12 from the field in the overtime session, and the Spurs got the 93-89 win to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.
George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.
“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.
“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”
George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.
He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.
Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.