Pacers upset Heat, referees, win series 2-2


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(INDIANAPOLIS): In dramatic fashion, the Indiana Pacers completed their upset of the Miami Heat and Referees in the Eastern Conference Finals Tuesday night, winning the series 2-2.

Indiana’s pivotal Game 4 victory was fueled by clutch performances from the frontcourt combo of David West and Roy Hibbert. The two men combined for 37 points and 24 rebounds and played strong defense all night against Miami stars LeBron James and Joey Crawford.

A key turning point in the game came late in the fourth quarter when, in an unexpected twist, referee Derrick Stafford made an about-face and called an illegal screen against teammate LeBron James, James’ 6th foul.

Joey Crawford and the Heat just didn't have enough to take down the Pacers in Game 4.

Joey Crawford and the Heat just didn’t have enough to take down the Pacers in Game 4.

“It was definitely a shock,” James said after the game. “I mean, the league announced last week that the referees would be on our team for this series, so to see them make that type of call in that moment was a surprise. I thought that if they made the call, they’d at least conveniently forget that it was my 6th foul, but they picked up on that as well.”

“It’s just a tough way to end the season,” added Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “We thought we had the officials in our pocket – hell, everybody did – but I guess they were building towards that turn heel all along. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a pressing hair appointment.”

Heat referee Rodney Mott blamed the loss on mental mistakes, saying “The league pays us to swing calls towards the Heat. That’s why it says “Miami” across our chests. I don’t want to say that Derrick [Stafford] choked when he called that foul against LeBron, but I don’t know. Fouling out the MVP on an illegal screen? I’m not sure what he was thinking – we were supposed to be there helping the Heat.”

Stafford was not available for comment after the game.

The mood in the Indiana locker room was much more celebratory.

“I told the guys before the series – whichever team wins two games second is going to win the series, and they went out there and executed exactly the way we drew it up in practice,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel.

“I’m proud of all of the guys in this locker room,” he added. “It’s one thing to beat Miami, but to beat Miami AND the Referees is something special.”

The Pacers are excited to be moving on to face the Lakers in the NBA Finals (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images).

The Pacers are excited to be moving on to face the Lakers in the NBA Finals (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images).

Indiana Star Paul George said in post-game remarks that knowing they were trailing 2-1 entering Tuesday’s game was a calming influence.

“We went in trailing 2-1, so we knew that if we won, we would win the series 2-2. But even if we lost, we’d still have a chance to come back and win the series in six or seven [games],” he said.

The Pacers will meet the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Lakers were given two consecutive byes to rest and prepare after failing to win a game in their first-round exhibition series against the San Antonio Spurs. Pacers forward David West was confident about the upcoming matchup.

“Well, we knew all along that if we beat Miami we’d play the Lakers. Everybody’s been saying since the summer that the Lakers would be in the Finals.”

The Lakers signed forward Kevin Durant and guard Stephen Curry last week, in order to have them on the roster for the Finals. The Pacers say that while they don’t agree with the league’s decision to allow the Lakers to add players to their roster while still under contract with other clubs, there’s nothing they can do about it.”

“They’re the Lakers, that’s how things work for them,” said Vogel. “We just have to adjust and move on.”

The NBA Finals start on June 6th.

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