NBA • Different call would have given Indiana crucial chance.
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Naturally, the final controversial call dominated talk in the Indiana locker room on Saturday night, following the Pacers' 114-110 loss to the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena.
But whether a last-second inbounds pass caromed from behind or off the side of the backboard, there are no do-overs in the NBA. The referees made the call, and Indiana's fate for one evening is sealed.
"We just have to live with the call," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.
To be sure, the Pacers believe the ball was out, and that they should've been awarded possession down 112-110 with a chance to send things to a second overtime. But a number of sequences put Indiana in a precarious position to start.
"Honestly, we should've never let it get that far," George Hill said.
There was the inability to secure a defensive rebound on a possession that gave Utah multiple chances to score. There was Al Jefferson scoring on Roy Hibbert in the post on seemingly every touch. There was Lance Stephenson, a starting shooting guard, contributing exactly zero points and four turnovers in 24 minutes. There was the Jazz winning this game on hustle.
And yet, the Pacers were still in it, and vehemently argued they should've been awarded the ball on the one play that could've erased it all.
"My interpretation is that the referees can review the call if the ball goes out of bounds," Vogel said. "The question is whether the ball went out of bounds. They didn't call it that way, so it wasn't reviewable. That's my understanding."
The Pacers had climbed as high as third in the Eastern Conference, even challenging New York for the second spot. Indiana is still missing injured starter Danny Granger. They need more out of Hibbert, who did have 14 points and 12 rebounds in 34 minutes.
Even better, Paul George is blossoming into a star. The third-year guard scored 23 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out four assists. He made shots down the stretch and will be an All-Star for the first time next month.