With the Pacers' season on the line, Paul George stepped up. The Pacers' star poured in 21 fourth-quarter points, allowing Indiana to hold off Miami, 93-90, and fight to a Game 6.
5 things to know
Boy George saves the day
Paul George, who is either overrated or underrated depending on the day, was brilliant in the Pacers must-win Game 5. He scored 31 of his 37 points in the second half, including an unconscious fourth quarter when he saved the Pacers from elimination with a flurry of threes down the stretch.
This was a truly ridiculous game in every way imaginable, but George somehow brought a sense of dignity and grace to a team that has lacked both. It has been suggested that George has struggled during the postseason, but with the Pacers, all things are relative. His scoring, shooting and rebounding numbers are all up from last season. In Indy’s three elimination games, he has been the best player on the court.
Just barely 24 years old, George has already endured the strangest of career arcs. He has gone from relative unknown to budding All-Star to potential superstar in five short seasons and seen his progress evaluated and reevaluated at every turn. He is not there yet, but through it all, George has offered tantalizing glimpses of greatness. All things considered, Game 5 may have been his finest hour to date -Paul Flannery
Predictable LeBron criticism is back
The thing about LeBron's actions in the Heat's last possession -- James drove the lane, then passed to Chris Bosh in the corner for a three that would have given Miami the win -- is that everything was totally predictable. With LeBron in foul trouble and being on the road, of course Miami would go for the win. With Roy Hibbert in the game for defensive purposes, finding Bosh away from the hoop -- a constant problem for Hibbert this postseason -- would likely be smart. LeBron has consistently set up teammates in crucial situations; it seems as if we had the Donyell Marshall argument just yesterday.
But most of all, the debate sparked by Bosh's miss was totally expected. Some people insist our basketball heroes do it all by themselves, and thanks to time removed can tell themselves that what's The Greatest Of All Time did. Never mind that Michael Jordan's Bulls clinched the 1997 NBA Finals due to MJ ... driving the lane and kicking to an open Steve Kerr.
The world is full of hot takes, and LeBron will always be a target. I just wish the critics weren't so predictable. -Tom Ziller
Lance is just getting started
Lance Stephenson thinks he's in LeBron James' head. He's thought that for a little while now. This is very good news because, as Ray Allen put it, Lance thinking he's onto something only emboldens him to practice more buffoonery. In Game 5, it was flopping like a fish and creeping into Miami's huddle and, most buffonishly, blowing into LeBron's ear, behavior usually reserved for couples and/or Dez Bryant(?).
And James finished a foul-sullied night with just seven points, so you know Lance believes his tactics are effective. It's only gonna get creepier. Here's what to expect as we head toward Game 6:
-Lance skywrites "LEBRON JAMFS" over South Beach. Yes, JAMFS.
-Lance makes 750 new Facebook accounts and invites LeBron to play Cityville from all of them.
-Lance gets all his tattoos removed, then gets exact replicas of all LeBron's tattoos.
-Lance records himself singing Bonnie Raitt's "Nick of Time" onto a MiniDisc and mails it to the Heat practice facility.
-Lance consumes nothing but eggplant, Diet Pepsi and styrofoam to produce extra vile farts during Game 6.
-Lance cuts his jersey into a halter top, then goes out of his way to brush against Heat players with his bare belly.
-Lance pokes a hole in the ball and fills it with nickels, failing to realize this hinders both teams.
-While LeBron shoots free throws, Lance stares him down and drools all over himself.
It's gonna get weird. -Seth Rosenthal
Miami's outliers go both ways
LeBron James' foul-plagued 2-10 performance was clearly the biggest outlier of Game 5. Without going too crazy here, let's just say that a) it was bound to happen at some point; b) a couple of those calls could have gone the other way; and c) he won't go 2-10 in just 24 minutes again. The Pacers are going to have to win with James at full capacity to win this series.
But let's not forget that Miami had a number of other outliers pointing the other way in this game. Rashard Lewis, who had exactly zero points in 35 minutes in Games 3 and 4, scored 18 on 6-9 from three-point range in Game 5. Dwyane Wade never shoots threes, yet there he was nailing two in the fourth quarter to bring Miami back. Miami shot 48 percent from three-point range and still lost. That likely won't be duplicated the rest of the series.
James trumps a lot of that, of course, and Miami is still very much in the driver's seat in this series. But if the Heat shooters have a cold night, which is very possible, the Pacers have a real shot at sending this back to Indiana for Game 7. Perhaps it's Miami that squandered an opportunity here. -Mike Prada
Stop the madness. Speed up the games
You probably looked on with a mix of emotions as Game 5 wound down, still feeling flickers of your Paul George-induced adrenaline rush that was quickly being diluted by nothingness. You likely wondered why it took so damn long for the game to end. In the last 46.7 seconds, Miami took one full timeout and both teams took a 20-second timeout. The officials reviewed one play. It doesn’t seem that unusual.
Those final 46 seconds took 13 minutes to play.
We all watched on as 13 minutes of real life wasted away while professional basketball players didn’t really play much basketball. Sure, Rashard Lewis made a three during that 13-minute dirge to the end, but it was one of only three shots either team took from the field in those 13 minutes and it was the only one to go in.
For 13 minutes, nobody did anything other than shoot occasionally free throws and talk once about who touched a ball last before it went out of bounds. In retrospect, it seems oddly right that the Pacers, who scored 11 points in the second quarter without breaking character, would properly bookend a win as only they could. George had scintillated Miami, but we still had 46.7 seconds of Pacers basketball left in the night, and those men in the white and gold with a one-possession lead were going to get their money’s worth. -James Pennington
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