LeBron James just doesn’t foul out.
It has happened twice since he joined the Heat, five times in his entire NBA career (the last one against the Celtics last playoffs). In the middle of this season he went through a six-game stretch where he wasn’t called for one foul.
But with :56 seconds left in Game 4 Tuesday night, LeBron was called for a moving screen on Lance Stephenson. That was No. 6. Much to the delight of the vocal Indiana crowd LeBron went to the bench. It’s not likely his presence would have changed the outcome of this game, but without him and a clearly slowed Dwyane Wade running the show it was pretty much a lock the Pacers would win.
On a night where the one universal cry was that the officials were missing things both ways, you can add LeBron to the group. He didn’t think four of the fouls he got called for deserved a whistle, particularly the last one.
“I was going to set a screen and I felt like I was stationary — and D Wade rejected the pick and roll,” LeBron said in his televised postgame press conference. “Lance actually ran into me….
“I believe I was straight up and down on Paul George’s drive, on the and-1. They reversed a call with (Roy) Hibbert, called a foul on me on that one. And at the end of the third they called a push off on David West
“It was a couple of calls that I didn’t feel like were fouls, personal fouls on me. That’s how the game goes sometimes.”
I will grant LeBron that the last call was a bad one. As he said, Wade went away from the pick, when that happens you can’t really set a moving screen because there is no screen being used. That was a no-call at any point in the game.
But all night long the game was called tightly and not everyone adjusted. I’d like to see the referees let the guys play a little at this point, but it was what hit was. Also, the referees missed calls both ways — there was a terrible 24-second clock violation on the Pacers at one point.
Miami didn’t lose this game because of the refs — they multiple chances to put this game away, but all night they struggled to stop the Pacers offense, and in the key final minutes they had no answer for Roy Hibbert. The Heat lost this game because of a slow start, and because the Pacers are good, and because the vaunted Heat defense couldn’t get the job done. It wasn’t the refs.
But I wouldn’t bet on LeBron fouling out next game.