LeBron James, who is never in foul trouble, was in foul trouble throughout Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, played just 24 minutes, and the Heat lost, 93-90. The Pacers extended their season by a couple days, and head back to Miami to get bludgeoned in Game 6 Friday.
Yes, Paul George scored 37 points. Yes, David West scored 19 points and collected nine rebounds.
But LeBron’s five fouls were definitely the story. A quick run through of the fouls reveals … let’s just say Paul George’s $25k fine for bitching about officials was money well spent. And if you’re the conspiracy type who thinks the NBA wanted to prolong this series, you’re probably not alone:
Foul 1: Tough to discern without a view from a second angle. But both referees appear to blow their whistle at the same time. LeBron, naturally, didn’t think he touched George.
Foul 2: An absolute joke. Clearly, the ref was anticipating contact, and blew his whistle. Really bad call.
Foul 3: Yes, LeBron’s arm is extended, but George’s feet are definitely moving. Should have been a play-on. No advantage gained, as after the two collided LeBron lost his balance and the ball.
Foul 4: Doesn’t look like much in real time or on the replay, but LeBron put up his hand to admit guilt.
Foul 5: This is a really weak foul call. There was 8:34 left in the third and it turned the game. The Pacers went on a tear, dominated the quarter, and LeBron seemingly sat forever. Stephenson poked the ball away cleanly, and there’s a lot of contact by both parties in the next five seconds. Actually, Stephenson could have been called for a foul here. Totally looks like a play-on to me.
The end result was one of LeBron’s worst playoff games ever: 2-for-10 shooting, seven points, four assists, three turnovers, and two rebounds. I’ll guess his Game 6 line: 10-of-15 shooting, 32 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, Heat win by double digits.
Related: Referee Brian Forte: “Hey LeBron, enough!” LeBron: “Don’t talk to me like I’m a kid!”
Related: LeBron James Flopped Like He Got Smacked With a Frying Pan
Related: Lance Stephenson is Blowing in LeBron’s Ear at the Free Throw Line, For Some Reason