On the eighth and final day of a four-game road trip, the Pacers had a chance to head back to Indianapolis on a high note. Instead, a series of questionable calls helped propel Denver to a 102-101 victory at the Pepsi Center. The loss was Indiana’s third straight after opening the trip with a victory in Memphis last Monday.
The Nuggets are a perennial playoff team in the Western Conference and play very well at home. Monday night’s victory was their 18th in 21 home games, but it is one they almost let slip away.
The Pacers trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half and they looked to be on the wrong end of a blowout when Frank Vogel called timeout with less than seven minutes to play and his team trailing 96-82. However, the Pacers rallied back and tied the game at 99 with less than two minutes to play, completing a 17-3 run.
The Nuggets failed miserably down the stretch at the free throw line. At one point during the fourth quarter, Andre Iguodala missed four consecutive free throws.
The Pacers clearly had the momentum and a chance to either win or force overtime once Paul George blocked Danilo Gallinari’s shot with 26 seconds to play. However, the visitors were unable to either win or force overtime thanks to a couple of officiating decisions that left the visiting speechless.
All-Star Paul George had a clear-out opportunity with less than five seconds to play and about one second separating the game and shot clock. However, George was unable to get past Iguodala on the drive even though the defender appeared to initiate contact. No foul was called and Denver corralled the ball and called timeout with just .5 seconds to play.
Despite the turnover overtime seemed likely until Andre Miller’s in bounds pass to Iguodala near the rim drew a quick whistle. George and Iguodala appeared to make incidental contact, but since Iguodala lost his balance and was unable to catch the pass, a foul was called on George with just one-tenths of a second running off the clock.
Iguodala finally made a free throw, then missed the second on purpose and time expired on the rebound attempt.
Frank Vogel was visibly furious after the foul was called on George, but decided against directly criticizing the officiating in his post-game comments
“I am not going to make any comments on the play,” said Vogel.
That ‘no-comment’ kind of response was repeated by players, although veteran forward David West made his disappointment known.
“You just don’t expect the whistle to be blown in that situation. They (Nuggets) basically only have one option and that was the option. You don’t expect it but stranger things have happened.”
Both of those quotes come courtesy of the Pacers Rewind article on the teams official website, Pacers.com.
Despite the problems on the final two possessions, Paul George had another spectacular all-around performance with 23 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals. Lance Stephenson contributed 20 points while West added 17.
The Pacers play eight of their next nine games at home, starting with Wednesday night’s contest at Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the Detroit Pistons.