The Indiana Pacers did everything right last night, but still lost to LeBron James and, to a lesser extent, the rest of the Miami Heat.
The Pacers hung around all game despite being huge underdogs. They forced overtime on a miraculous desperation three-pointer. They went up by one with just two seconds remaining.
And they still lost.
With two seconds on the clock, James caught an inbounds pass at top of the key, spun past his defender, and hit a running layup as time expired. Heat 103, Pacers 102.
James finished the game with his ninth career postseason triple-double: 30 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds.
After the game, commentators piled on Pacers coach Frank Vogel, arguing that he blew the game by benching seven-footer Roy Hibbert for that final play. Without Hibbert — who made this memorable block on Carmelo Anthony to help close out the Pacers' last series — Indiana had no big man to protect the rim.
Why take Hibbert out? Why take Hibbert out? Why take Hibbert out? Why take Hibbert out? Why take Hibbert out? Why take Hibbert out?
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) May 23, 2013
Vogel defended his decision, crediting the Heat's versatility for creating too many matchup problems:
That's the dilemma they present when they have Chris Bosh at the five spot and his ability to space the floor. We put a switching lineup in with the intent to switch, keep everything in front of us and try to go into or force a challenged jumpshot. We pushed a little bit too much. LeBron was able to beat us off the bounce. [via ESPN]
It's a heartbreaking loss for the Pacers, who came back to force overtime on this impossible heave by Paul George:
Then in overtime, George seemed to cinch things up for the Pacers. A Dwyane Wade foul on another desperation three gave George a trio of free throws. He hit all of them to put Indiana up one, only to have James come right back with an even more improbable answer.