The Pacers’ Paul George had to know he was getting fined when he said this after Game 4 Monday night:
“Looking at the stat sheet, we outplayed them. You got to give them credit. They won this game at the free‑throw line. They really just were able to get to the line more than we were, but I thought we outplayed them tonight….
“But, again, they made 30 free throws, and that put them over the edge. I mean, you can’t tell me we don’t attack the basket as much as they attack the basket. You can’t tell me we’re not aggressive. Maybe we’re too aggressive. But I feel like we’re just as aggressive as they are attacking the basket and making plays at the rim. Maybe this was just home cooking.”
The league gave George what was expected Tuesday, hitting him with a $25,000 fine for “public criticism of the officiating.” George knew that was coming and probably should have brought his checkbook to the press conference to save time.
What George probably didn’t expect was the media and fan backlash against his comments.
George and the Pacers didn’t attack the rim like the Heat did — four of George’s 16 shots came within eight feet of the rim. George had zero drives that started outside 20 feet and got inside 10 feet for a shot (LeBron James had 11). The list goes on with George and the Pacers.
The Heat got 17 more free throw attempts in Game 4 for the same reason the Pacers got 22 more in Game 1 — they were the aggressors. In the NBA the team that attacks gets to the line, the Pacers have not done that the past couple games. The Pacers defense has allowed the Heat a ridiculous 111.5 points per 100 offensive rating this series. That is the problem, not the referees.
Frank Vogel is trying to get his team focused back on the game for Game 4.
The question is will it even matter at this point? The Pacers have not been a consistently focused team since about the All-Star break.
The NBA’s award season seems more wide open than ever.
Ben Simmons was going to enter the season as the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but with him out injured the door is flung open to a lot of players. Coach of the Year is always a game of “which coach exceeds expectations.” Even MVP seems more open with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — the award winners the past three seasons — teamed up in the Bay Area.
In this latest PBT Extra I throw out my predictions for the awards, but let’s get on with the games next week and see who earns them.
During the ProBasketballTalk podcast with Sixers coach Brett Brown, you could hear the frustration in his voice. He has all these talented young front line players — Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor — but he can’t begin to figure out how they all fit together if he can’t get them on the court at the same time.
That problem just got worse.
The Sixers announced that Nerlens Noel will miss time following surgery to deal with soreness in his left knee. Here is the word from the press release itself:
During the normal course of evaluation and treatment for his left adductor strain, which was identified on October 6, Noel reported localized soreness in his left knee. After consulting with multiple specialists, the source of the soreness was identified as inflamed plica. Noel has elected to address the injury via a minor surgical procedure in the coming days.
The team gives no timeline for Noel’s return. Soreness from the plica — a band of tissue around the knee that is not important following birth — happens in some players and can be fixed by an arthroscopic surgery that removes the area being irritated. While the surgery is minor, it usually takes around six weeks to bounce back from this.
That likely means a little more run for Jahlil Okafor (just coming back from an injury of his own) and Richaun Holmes. But it’s just another injury setback for a Sixers team plagued by them.
The Sixers also announced that Jerryd Bayless will not have surgery on his wrist, but will remain out and be evaluated in two weeks.
This was flat out incredible.
After a back-and-forth, even series between the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks, it came down to the final seconds (although maybe it shouldn’t have, the WNBA admitted Friday the referees missed a call with 1:14 left, giving the Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike a bucket on a shot after the shot clock expired).
The biggest stars took over at the end, as you can see in the video above: L.A.’s Candace Parker drives and scores with 19 seconds left putting the Sparks up 75-74; Minnesota responded with a Maya Moore jumper to take the lead back, then it came down to Ogwumike (the WNBA’s 2016 MVP) getting the ball after a block by Sylvia Fowles and following it up with a fadeaway bucket that gave Los Angeles the title.
Congrats to Candace Parker on the win, after how she’s been overlooked on the awards circuit in the WNBA this season, this is some sweet revenge.
Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday is away from the team as his wife, Lauren Holiday, battles a brain tumor.
First, Lauren gave birth to a healthy daughter.
Now, more good news.
John Reid of The Times-Picayune:
Hopefully, the Holidays continue to find good health.