Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

May 23, 2013

LeBron, Heat top Pacers in Game 1 of East Finals

MIAMI — It could have been the perfect matchup to cap an unforgettable game. LeBron James driving to the rim to face Roy Hibbert, one play to decide Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Alas, Hibbert was on the bench for the deciding moment.

And James made Miami's game-winner seem way too easy.

James blew past Paul George and made a layup as time expired, and the Heat found a way to outlast the Indiana Pacers 103-102 in a back-and-forth Game 1 of the East title series Wednesday night. There were 18 ties and 17 lead changes, two coming in the final 2.2 seconds, the last on a play that had Hibbert shaking his head in disbelief at his seat 75 feet away from where James beat both the clock and the Pacers in one swoop.

"Once I got the ball,'' James said, "I was the only option.''

He finished with his ninth career postseason triple-double - 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists - which might have been easily overlooked on this night. The Heat looked like they had the game won in regulation, before George connected on a tying 3-pointer from 32 feet away with 0.7 seconds left to extend the game. And then the Pacers looked like they had stolen Game 1 when George made three free throws for a one-point lead with 2.2 ticks left in overtime.

They simply left James too much time. He caught the inbounds pass from Shane Battier, benefitted from George overplaying him to his left side - James is left-handed, just plays right-hand dominant - drove and released the ball with about four-tenths of a second remaining. By the time the shot dropped softly through the net, the clock showed zeroes.

"He continues to amaze,'' Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.

The Pacers had a slightly different perspective.

"It was gut-wrenching,'' Hibbert said.

So, too, was the decision that Pacers coach Frank Vogel had to make before the final play.

Vogel calls James the best offensive player in the game. He also calls Hibbert the best rim protector in the game. He likely wouldn't face much argument on either point.

Vogel's dilemma was this: Put Hibbert on the floor and risk that he couldn't cover a possible jumper by Chris Bosh, the Heat center-by-default who is probably the best outside-shooting big man in the game - or hope the Pacers could get one more stop without him. And remember, Hibbert had one of the signature moments in these playoffs, his great block to deny Carmelo Anthony's dunk try in Indiana's clinching second-round win over the New York Knicks.

Hibbert stayed on the bench. James drove and scored. Second-guessing commenced.

"I would say we would probably have him in next time,'' Vogel said.

Said James: "You can't say what would have been different.''

Wade finished with 19 points for the Heat, who got 17 from Bosh and 16 from Chris Andersen - who was 7 for 7 from the field, and 2 for 2 from the line off the Miami bench. Andersen is now shooting a ridiculous 29 for 35 in these playoffs, or 83 percent.

George scored 27 points for the Pacers, who got 26 from David West and 19 from Hibbert.

"It just felt like everything was in our favor,'' George said. "And you know, when that 3 went down and obviously when I got fouled at the 3-point line, us being in position to win that game, you feel confident (that) we were going to be able to take care of business.''

Game 2 is Friday night in Miami.

Officials reviewed James' play at the end, though it was clear he beat the clock, and the Pacers walked slowly toward their locker room, lamenting one that got away - by no fault of George's.

George was fouled by Wade on the play where the Pacers had to think they had stolen the series opener. Referee Jason Phillips said Wade hit George, and the Pacers' star made all three free throws for the 16th lead change of the night.

The final lead change came moments later.

"Welcome to the Eastern Conference finals,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Back and forth the whole way.''

The final few seconds of regulation were stunning, with Ray Allen - the sixth-best free-throw shooter in NBA history - missing one that proved big, and George making a miracle happen.

Trailing by two with 17.7 seconds left, the Pacers had to foul Allen, who surely would have been their last choice. But he missed one of the two free throws, and it remained a one-possession game. Indiana brought the ball into the frontcourt, called time, and then seemed to have nothing really working as the final seconds of regulation ticked away.

So George simply made something happen.

From way deep - from the newly applied Eastern Conference finals sticker on the side of the court, technically - George connected with 0.7 seconds left, tying the game and giving Indiana life.

Allen didn't get much of a desperation shot off at the end of regulation, and to overtime the teams went.

"It took an overtime to get it done,'' Spoelstra said. "Glad to get that one.''

The Pacers kept landing the first punches in the extra session. George made two free throws to open the OT, and Andersen tied it with two of his own. Hibbert scored from close range, and Wade answered with an easy one after a runout for the 16th tie of the night.

George was far from done. He went past James, got into the lane, tossed up a shot after contact and started what became a three-point play that put the Pacers up 99-96. Miami had three chances at the tie - a desperation 3-pointer by Battier as the shot clock was expiring, then a 3-point try by Bosh and another 3 attempt by Battier.

All missed.

But Bosh grabbed the rebound of the last shot by Battier that bounced off the rim in that sequence, scored while being fouled by George with 49.7 seconds left, calmly swished the free throw and the teams were - what else? - tied again at 99-all.

James scored on a drive with 10.8 seconds left in the overtime, and George answered with the three free throws. With Hibbert on the bench, Indiana had one plan for James on the last play.

"We wanted LeBron to shoot a jumper right there,'' George said.

He had other ideas.

And after 3 hours, 18 minutes, it was over.

"We're excited about the win,'' James said. "But we have to get better going into Game 2.''

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0344web.jpg ‘Lucky 7’ comes through in the 3rd

    Over the course of his four-year baseball career at Verdigris High School, third baseman Ryan Skalnik has had his share of memorable at-bats.
    None more important than Tuesday’s appearance in the Large School East-West All-State Game at J.L. Johnson Stadium in Tulsa.
    Skalnik, who was the lone senior this season for Verdigris and a four-time Class 3A state champion, thrived under pressure in the top of the third inning for the East.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • BASEBALL: Larue, Skalnik power East to 3-0 victory

    The East blanked the West 3-0 in the Large School All-State Baseball Game Tuesday night at J. L. Johnson Stadium on the campus of Oral Roberts University.
    Claremore catcher Matt Whatley and third baseman Ryan Skalnik of Verdigris represented Rogers County in the contest.
    Skalnik finished 1-for-3 with a pair of RBI's.  Whatley was 0-for-1 with a walk.

    July 30, 2014

  • FISHFRYweb.jpg Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2

    The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • RSU places 77 student-athletes on Heartland Conference Academic All-Conference Honor Roll

    The Heartland Conference announced that more than 1000 student-athletes from its 12 member institutions landed a spot on the Academic All-Conference honor roll, including 77 from Rogers State.
     
    The Hillcats had 33 student-athletes named to the President's Honor Roll while 44 earned Commissioner's Honor Roll recognition.

    July 31, 2014

  • Indoor football coming back to Enid?

     Is Enid ready to give professional arena football another try? Oklahoma City businessman Antwone Taulton and Enid Enforcers owner Mark Timberlake think so, and are in the early stages of a plan they hope will see the return of arena football in 2015 to Enid after an absence of more than 10 years. And if things progress as one league executive expects, an official announcement could be forthcoming in the near future.

    July 31, 2014

  • OU holds Mixon out of practice, investigation continues

    Preseason practice begins for Oklahoma today, but freshman running back Joe Mixon will not be there, the school announced Wednesday night.

    The university, in its statement, said “Joe Mixon is not reporting for team activities at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation.”

    July 31, 2014

  • Ticket options available for Arkansas women's basketball

    The excitement surrounding head coach Jimmy Dykes and the 2014-15 University of Arkansas women’s basketball season is building every day in Northwest Arkansas.

    As the excitement builds, the Razorback Ticket Center has announced the availability of women’s basketball season ticket plans including several new options for this season.  Tickets go on sale beginning today and can be purchased online at ArkansasRazorbacks.com or by calling the Razorback Ticket Center at 800-982-4647.  Current season ticket holders will receive renewal forms in the mail the first week of August.

    July 31, 2014

  • Ex-OSU baseball players Oliver, Hague on new paths in All-Star season

    Matt Hague has transitioned to being a power hitter and Andy Oliver has evolved into a shutdown closer.

    The former Oklahoma State players were both named International League All-Stars after reinventing themselves this season with the Indianapolis Indians, the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    July 31, 2014

  • Ex-Sooner Courtney Paris finding niche with Shock

    It looked like it came easily to Courtney Paris. The minute she stepped foot on the campus at the University of Oklahoma in 2005, it seemed she was already an All-American and destroying the competition in the Big 12 and across the nation.

    July 31, 2014

  • MLB: Keuchel tosses 4-hitter, Astros roll past A's

    In at least one category, Dallas Keuchel is Clayton Kershaw's equal. For at least one three-game series, Houston was better than Oakland.

    Keuchel pitched a four-hitter and Robbie Grossman homered to cap a six-run first inning that sent the Astros past the Athletics 8-1 Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014