Cleveland ran into a gritty Indiana team on the road on the second night of a back-to-back on Friday, and despite the fact that things were tight down the stretch, the Pacers were the ones who emerged as the victors.
Indiana played solid defense throughout, and used a 36-point fourth quarter (along with some big-time shot-making) to end the Cavaliers 12-game winning streak. But LeBron James the officials were at least partly to blame, thanks to some late-game calls that were made in favor of the Pacers.
From Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com:
There were plenty of questionable calls in this one. Blatt thought one of the big ones was a reversed call on Matthew Dellavedova. What originally was called a charge was reversed to a blocking foul on Delly when the official at the other end of the court came running over adamant that Delly was in the restricted area.
James was also called for an offensive foul with 2:09 left on a basket that should’ve put the Cavs up 91-88. Instead it was going the other way and the Pacers reclaimed the lead on one of Miles’ 3-pointers.
“It wasn’t a good call,” James said. “I didn’t extend. I just put up an arm bar like a big guy would if he were shooting a jump-hook in the post. … And I thought Delly’s call wasn’t a good call at all.”
James stopped himself there for fear of getting fined, particularly since the coals are still hot from Chris Paul’s comments Thursday. “I don’t want to get far in it,” James said with a grin. “I don’t want to get fined for sure.”
LeBron shouldn’t be fined for simply stating his opinion on two key plays. This is very different from Chris Paul going on an extended rant after a game against these same Cavaliers just one night earlier, which caused a bit of a firestorm even though the comments critics targeted were relatively innocuous.
We want players to be able to give us some insight into how they saw things unfold, and restrained comments like these should go unpunished. Besides, when you allow 36 points in the fourth quarter on the road to a team that came into this one with a record of just 18-32 on the season, it should be obvious that the referees were not the reason that the game was lost.