I have seen it many times before, but from a basketball junkie’s
perspective, you always want to see if he can do something even more amazing than last time. Once again Lebron James did not disappoint the young fans wearing his jersey in the stands, but the Indiana Pacers refused to give in. The Pacers took it to Cleveland in the final seconds to hand the Cavaliers a loss they undoubtedly were seething about on the flight back home.
On a night when three key players were unavailable to the Pacers, James had yet another incredible performance by scoring 47 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists.
But the Pacers did an excellent job in keeping James’s supporting cast in check and by virtue of placing five players of their own in double figures, Indiana defeated the Cavaliers 96 -95 in a game that was both entertaining and controversial in terms of the finish.
Trailing with 0.8 seconds left, the Cavs ran a lob play to James who could not convert, but drew a questionable foul from fellow All Star Danny Granger. James quickly deposited both free throws to tie the game at 95 and send Pacer Coach Jim O’Brien in to orbit over the foul call.
After calling time out, the Pacers ran the only play they had time for, a similar lob pass to the basket to Granger who was in turn the recipient of yet another questionable foul call, this time on James. Granger hit the first free throw and then deliberately missed the second to prevent the Cavs from getting the ball and securing a improbable win for the Pacers.
The Pacers were led in scoring by Troy Murphy who had 18 points to accompany his game high 15 rebounds. Granger hit for 16, while T.J. Ford, Roy Hibbert, and Travis Diener all reached double figures in scoring for Indiana.
Mo Williams scored 15 for the Cavs, while Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 10 points to go along with 11 rebounds for Cleveland.
Notes: Before the game, I asked James if he shared my frustration regarding the manner in which the NBA distributes most of the tickets for the NBA All Star Game to corporate sponsors, thereby shutting out the young people that buy millions and millions of dollars worth of NBA apparel annually.
“It does concern me, but I can not do much about it,” stated the affable James. I told him that I disagreed as he has a platform with the NBA that few players have ever had, not to mention the fact that the NBA sells his replica jersey to millions of school age children each year. Hopefully he will consider taking the NBA to task on this as it is shameful not to see young fans in the good seats at the annual event which will be played in Phoenix this year on Feb. 15.
All time Major League Baseball hits leader Pete Rose was in attendance for the game. In route to Dayton, Ohio for a personal appearance, Rose was candid about the ongoing steroid issues in baseball. He also seemed quite remorseful for his gambling on baseball, which led him to be banned from the sport.
Considering the various types of other offenders that have made it in to the Baseball Hall of Fame, is it not about time the game took another look at this superb player who has now paid for his mistakes? How can the Hall Of Fame be legit without Rose?
The Pacers next home game is Feb. 17 against the Philadelphia 76ers. Tickets are still available at Ticketmaster.com or at the Conseco Fieldhouse box office by calling 917-2727.
Danny Bridges can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or at Bridgeshd@aol.com.