I am not the type to put all my blames and troubles on the already-burdened shoulders of the officials.
There’s too much that takes place around the officiating that plays a role in the final result, and usually the officiating is poor for both sides if you look close enough. We’ll get that excuse for last night’s Miami Heat game, because the Heat still took eight more free throws, Lance Stephenson was rightfully thrown out for instigating two altercations, and LeBron James did take 15 free throws.
It wasn’t enough. So what if LeBron had 15 free throws? Is there a cap? He was aggressive all night and repeatedly took it to the rim, with or without Roy Hibbert in the middle.
But, still, there’s plenty of analysis that could be made about the Heat’s 84-83 loss to Indiana that should be squarely put on them. Factors such as Mario Chalmers scoring five points in 40 minutes, Udonis Haslem, not Greg Oden, being the answer to stopping Roy Hibbert, shooting 32% on threes and 72% on free throws, and not even attempting to execute an offense in the final two minutes of a game that was wrapped up.
No, the Heat had to look at themselves for the greater reasons why they ended up losing.They can’t have their starting backcourt shoot 4-of-10 from the foul line, 12 turnovers committed between James and Dwyane Wade, and get only eight points from Chris Bosh without looking at themselves.
It also certainly helped Indiana’s cause that they managed to shoot 50% on threes, supported by David West’s first three-pointer in over a month and fourth of the season (because of course), that they took 20 more shots than Miami (because turnovers), and had Roy Hibbert score as many points in the first quarter as he had in the past week’s worth of games.
There was plenty to bother the Heat, besides the cruel, frigid hand of the officiating, pointing in the opposite direction, enthusiastically making egregious calls that should have wet the shorts of every conspiracy theorist out there.
No, I don’t blame the officials for the Heat losing.
But they sure as hell weren’t helping.
First off, the significance of the first should-have-been flagrant foul on Ian Mahinmi could have potentially put all momentum in Miami’s favor. The wraparound LeBron’s shoulders and neck resulted in only two free throws, which allowed Miami to take a seven-point lead after James’s free throws.
Common foul. pic.twitter.com/LJPFFSb6vz
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) March 27, 2014
Think Indiana is a tad more demoralized if the Heat get a pair of free throws and the ball back, with the potential to go up by as much as ten? Rather than getting two free throws, and then having Paul George get a dunk on the other end?
But, hey, move on, right? No time to stew over Indiana’s backup center tackling the league’s best player and only getting two shots out of–OH MY GOD, WHAT DID LUIS SCOLA JUST DO?
In a one-point game, and Indiana riding the momentum of a 6-0 run, LeBron goes to the rim for an unimpeded drive. That is, until Luis Scola comes and drops a hammer on the same collar bone LeBron was wrapped up by just a few minutes earlier.
Once again, a common-foul. It’s just the second drive by LeBron in the past five minutes that involves him getting either body-slammed or whacked across the shoulders, but, fine, two more free throws.
And that’s when it starts to get really bad. Because on the very next possession, LeBron’s drive to the rim is broken up by Roy Hibbert’s face, who catches an elbow on James’s attempt to get around him as they meet at the summit.
This, somehow, was the only flagrant of the night. Just minutes after LeBron gets tackled and a possession after he gets a sledgehammer to the collar, it is decided that LeBron intentionally made excessive or violent contact with Roy Hibbert.
As he was driving to the rim. In a three-point game in the fourth quarter. While he was trying to score a layup with one arm, he was throwing elbows with the other.
This was the logic of the officiating crew last night, that LeBron purposely wanted to elbow Roy Hibbert in the face as he went up for a layup. Let that tell you what kind of night it was.
But I don’t want to get into that, because, well, look at it. The officials had a keen enough eye to see Wade step out-of-bounds, although video and pictures tell otherwise, yet failed to notice Stephenson openly grabbing Mario Chalmers by his wrist going after a loose-ball earlier.
And I know David West traveled on his three, but that’s a call that’s never being made. Especially after what had transpired the previous 47 minutes.
If just one of these plays is in Miami’s favor, they win. But the Heat can still sleep easy knowing they have a way to keep Hibbert from starting off 6/7, and that it’s extremely unlikely one of the league’s lower-tier offenses shoots 50% from three for an entire seven-game series.
Until then, I’d be pretty scared if I were the Detroit Pistons (Miami’s next opponent) right now.