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Report: League is reviewing several controversial calls from Pacers’ Game 4 win over Heat

May 29, 2013, 2:40 PM EDT

LeBron James, Derrick Stafford

As with most closely contested games this deep into the NBA playoffs, there were plenty of calls made by the officials in the Pacers’ Game 4 win over the Heat that could be argued depending on which side of the proverbial fence you happen to be sitting on.

Some others, however, were either objectively incorrect, or allowed to go on without a whistle from the referees.

There seemed to be more of these types of calls than usual in this one, and that may be why the league is reportedly taking a closer look at multiple plays from Game 4 to see exactly what took place.

From Ken Berger of

NBA officials are looking at several controversial calls in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals as they sift through the fallout from the Pacers’ 99-92 victory on Tuesday night, league sources told

The most obvious missed call was a blown 24-second call against the Pacers by crew chief Joe Crawford with 8:26 left in the third quarter. Replays showed that Roy Hibbert‘s attempt hit the rim, which should’ve resulted in the shot clock resetting. The Pacers were leading 81-72 at the time, and Miami subsequently went on an 11-2 run to tie the game at 83-83.

The non-call on the 24-second violation was obvious. But there were several others:

– After LeBron James came out essentially in favor of using flopping to gain an advantage, there were two blatant flops in Game 4 that are deserving of punishment. There was a double-flop on the same play where both James and David West exaggerated contact when the two collided. Nothing was called by the officials.

The other egregious acting job was pulled off by Lance Stephenson, who tried to convince a nearby official that Ray Allen had caught him with an elbow to the head. The referees weren’t buying that one, either.

– James fouled out on what was ruled an illegal screen with 56 seconds left. A look at the replay shows that James stuck out his leg to try to slow Stephenson, so this one appears to be legit, as it’s a tripping foul if nothing else. James said afterward that he thought he was “straight-up” on an and-one play that was converted by Paul George, but that was similar to a block/charge call that could have gone either way, and isn’t likely to draw any ire from the league office. But since James fouling out is an extremely rare occurrence, the league may look closely at his postgame comments to determine if a fine is in order for criticizing the officiating, even though nothing he said was all that inflammatory.

– With 26 seconds remaining, Dwyane Wade was called for traveling on a play that was questionable at best. A point of emphasis for the officials this year was to watch for players lifting both feet before initiating the dribble, which Wade might have been guilty of on this play. But that’s not when the travel was called; it came after the step-back move that appeared to be perfectly legal.

It isn’t great that the officiating is in the spotlight here, especially as we approach a critical Game 5. But it’s a positive that the league is al least reviewing the questionable calls that took place, and we’ll have to wait and  see if it makes any difference in how things are officiated on Thursday.

  1. lmoneyfresh - May 29, 2013 at 2:48 PM

    I’m sure after the investigation the league will make sure that 6 fouls are never called against Lebron again.

    Seriously though, can we stop acting like the league cares about the quality of their officiating? If they did, Joey Crawford wouldn’t have a job in the NBA.

    • spthegr8 - May 29, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      If Joey had it his way. He would be passing the ball too himself, while being covered by himself and then fouling himself, so he can do that little blocking call dance on his way too the scores’s table, too call the foul on himself. It’s ALL about Joey!!!

      • spthegr8 - May 29, 2013 at 4:28 PM

        For any of you bored @ work ( like me ) YouTube Joey Crawford dancing ( The running man ) It’s a good laugh!! Smh!! Talk about attention starved.

      • caeser12 - May 29, 2013 at 6:06 PM

        Joey Crawford just woke up, and called an offensive foul on Melo.

  2. angulocarlos1 - May 29, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    I know the fix! Retire Crawford! Lets be honest.. He is horrible

  3. ProBasketballPundit - May 29, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    This series is out of control. The league and refs think they’re controlling the physicality by blowing the whistle at every little thing… but I think it’s only making players more testy. There’s more breaks, more loss of focus, more complaining from players, more time to react to physical plays… and it’s destroying the flow of the game. This series is bordering on unwatchable because of the absolutely insane 50-60 foul calls per game. What ever happened to the notion that a no-call is better than an incorrect call?

  4. 13arod - May 29, 2013 at 2:59 PM

    the referees last night sucked lebron did not commint any fouls it feels like they were favoring the pacers most of the game

    • logisticalvoices - May 29, 2013 at 3:49 PM

      Wow. My response to you:

      i know right lebron didnt do anything to deserve getting fouls because everyone nose that david sturn wants to make it so hard for lebron to win because he is going to make it go 7 games for more money.

    • bigmeechy74 - May 29, 2013 at 6:16 PM


  5. scmems07 - May 29, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    An investigation on calls when the heat lose,I wonder if there would be am investigation of they won. I doubt it, amazingly heat fans don’t seem to notice all the calls in favor of them like the traveling, blatant elbows to the head, no call 3 seconds, but they sure do raise hell about the calls when they lose don’t they.

  6. magicbucs - May 29, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    All the refs are horrible in every game the last 5 years. It’s fine that they might miss a call or 2 per game but the easy calls they been blowing shouldn’t be happening at this level of competition.

  7. cantonbound13 - May 29, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    David Stern must have gotten a call from his buddy Arison.

  8. footballguru205 - May 29, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    This happens more often than not – where refs sometimes blow calls that could affect the outcome of the game or shape the game. I just can’t stand how now we have a story and issue just because the player involved is LeBron James. This would never have been an issue if Milwaukee was playing in the ECF.

    • borderline1988 - May 29, 2013 at 4:35 PM

      There were more questionable calls on both sides in this game than in any other game I can remember in the last few years. The refs were guilty of missed obvious calls (such as the 24 second violation), and were also guilty of excessively trying to control/decide the game. The Wade travel, Lebron fouls, even that Stephenson foul..those just aren’t calls.

      This isn’t just about Lebron James.

      In general, fans want to see games decided based on made and missed shots, not referees making calls causing turnovers or throwing players out of the game.

      You know a game was badly reffed when both sides’ fans are complaining.

      The best referees are the ones who make the least impact on the game. How many times have we heard Joey Crawford’s name in the last few years?? He just wants to leave his own impression on the game, but that’s not what a referee is supposed to.

  9. rodge1 - May 29, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    I am a Heat fan and there were terrible calls against both teams. Terrible calls turn into ‘make-up’ calls and the integrity is lost.

  10. jbeagles23 - May 29, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    The biggest concern with reffing is when the official with the clear view doesn’t make the call and an official being blocked out calls it out of anticipation

  11. mz1394 - May 29, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Teams get calls teams don’t get calls you have to be good enough to overcome them

  12. azarkhan - May 29, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Ticky-tack fouls in the play-offs make me long for the good old days when the motto was “No blood, no foul”.

  13. callisto9 - May 29, 2013 at 3:21 PM

    I think the theory of relativity applies here. Since the Miami Heat are accustomed to getting +3, or about 5 points on bad calls advantage a game. Whenever the situation presents itself as being fair or equal seems unfair because it goes against what they are used to.

    • mannyfresh209 - May 29, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      Pacers have gotten more FT attempts in every game this series, as well as getting less fouls in general called against them in every game this series.

      Last night was the icing on the cake, in a bad way.

      • stlouis1baseball - May 29, 2013 at 3:52 PM

        I suggest you do your homework on the Pacers D’ this season.
        Take a loot at their averages (fouls called, free throws attempted)…then compare them to their opponents. You will see the Pacers play straight up…man-to-man…in your face defense. The Knicks series tells that tale as well.
        But yeah…keep your Heat colored glasses on.

      • callisto9 - May 29, 2013 at 5:51 PM

        I didn’t mean +3 fouls called, I meant bad calls, Shane Battier calls, calls that frustrate most people watching these games and makes the Heat one of the most dislikable team in history. Granted bad is a subjective term, however the percentages of people enraged by them suggest that there is a recurring theme, and that one is Heat are showed favoritism because of star power. Well, former star power now, Dwade is falling and likely will continue to fall, and same with Bosh. If Heat lose this series it might be epic collapse.

      • lsoreal - May 29, 2013 at 11:52 PM

        The Free Throw gap would be much bigger had it not been for the refs favoring Miami. You want to see a gap? Go see their series vs the Knicks. Now that’s a gap. The Heat have no business complaining.

      • sublimepyro - May 30, 2013 at 10:57 AM

        Mannyfresh do you know anything about basketball? Are those Heat covered glasses permanently installed? If you are able, it may be good to take them off and actually watch one of the games.

        The Pacers have more free throws because they don’t rely on as many jump shots. When you drive to the basket you are going to draw more fouls and get more free throws.

        As Isoreal correctly pointed out the difference would be a lot greater if the NBA front office wasn’t in love with Miami. Yes there are bad calls both ways there always will be it’s the human factor. However, is is also very clear there are a lot more bad calls that hurt the Pacers. The Pacers have overcome the refs to make this a 2-2 series.

  14. mannyfresh209 - May 29, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Last night’s game was horribly officiated. Joey Crawford is that ornery old ref who’s heard so much bashing of his name -albeit by his own doing – that he just doesn’t give a “f” anymore. He’s gotta be disallowed to ref the rest of these playoffs.

    You know it’s bad when PRIOR to the game even starting, the entire social media is saying “Joey Crawford is reff’ing tonight! This should be horrible”

  15. stlouis1baseball - May 29, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Imagine that…
    The Heat lose…the NBA Poster boy fouls out and the league is investigating the officiating.
    Hahahaha! That’s choice stuff. Grade ‘A’ in fact.

    If I didn’t now any better I would think the NBA = WWF.

    • mannyfresh209 - May 29, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      You realize, that if the NBA wanted the Heat to win, LeBron would NOT have fouled out. Right? Or, are you just as lame as Joey Crawford?

      • stlouis1baseball - May 29, 2013 at 3:49 PM

        You realize, that Lebron actually fouled out long before that hip check…right?
        You know…when he blatantly raked PG’s arm…resulting in a no-call?
        Or are you just as lame as last nights timekeeper?

      • bendover09 - May 29, 2013 at 3:52 PM

        Miami Heat were granted pity calls. Where was all this questioning when Miami was winning? Where was the questioning in 2006 with Mavs? Everyone knows , well , some blinded by envy can’t figure out there on ass if it wasn’t connected to them .. well anyways , everyone knows that the league is just trying to leech out on ticket sales and get to game 7.

  16. anhdazman - May 29, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Time to jack up some of those fines for Charity! Come on Stern, double it up, all this flopping has got to stop. Even the MVP in Lebron is looking cheap since he’s doing it big times.
    You didn’t see MJ, Magic, Kobe, Bird doing all that flopping crapola. Come on Lebron, stop imitating Wade. Be a man!

  17. xli2006 - May 29, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    That should put away Joey Crawford’s crew for the rest of the playoffs. Regardless of who wins the East… that crew should not be allowed within 100 miles of the Finals.

  18. azarkhan - May 29, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    The oddest call Joey Crawford ever made was giving Tim Duncan a technical foul…while Duncan was sitting on the bench! Something about ‘disrespecting the game’. Anyway, since it was Duncan’s second technical, he was ejected. The look on Duncan’s face was priceless.

    • lmoneyfresh - May 29, 2013 at 6:57 PM

      His obvious grudge against Duncan should be enough to fire the idiot. Refs just can’t do that.

      • gmsingh - May 30, 2013 at 8:14 AM

        Joey picked the wrong profession if he wants to carry a grudge against tall guys.

    • kavika6 - May 30, 2013 at 6:31 AM

      Crawford better not officiate the Finals. His dislike of Duncan might guarentee a Finals loss for the Spurs no matter who they play.

  19. joeksnuffy - May 29, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    This is driving me nuts because nobody seemed to have seen the key element of LeBron’s illegal screen. As Lebron was stepping left to set the screen, he stepped on Stevenson’s foot, which is what caused him to fall. Nothing else matters. This was not a judgement call.

    The announcers didn’t mention this. The NBA TV Gametime guys didn’t mention this. This column didn’t mention it either. Ironically everyone’s blind on this one – except the referee!!

    • bougin89 - May 29, 2013 at 4:55 PM

      I agree with you, but their are so many illegal screens on almost every play in the NBA, where do you draw the line?

  20. bleedtwincitiessports - May 29, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Get off the ground Lebron! The flop was Ridiculous, west acted a little on the play, but Lebron looked like he got hit by a truck!

    • kavika6 - May 30, 2013 at 6:33 AM

      Nice. I was going to say an 8th round knockout punch from Mike Tyson.

  21. melkipershero - May 29, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    Of course they are. More fouls mean a slower game. A slower game works to Indy’s advantage. Anyone with a brain knows the NBA doesnt want a Pacers vs. Spurs Finals. Look for Miami to get those 50/50 calls and to get away with more.

    If the Heat dont hit 3’s they arent anything special. Small ball only works when youre hitting 3’s.

    • melkipershero - May 29, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      Also agree with the poster above. All these fouls make this unwatchable. I havent watched much because I turn it on and see foul fest so move on to something else to watch.

    • mannyfresh209 - May 29, 2013 at 4:57 PM

      look for miami to get away with the 50/50 calls? what evidence do you have that would make us expect this?

      they’ve been called for more fouls than indiana has this entire series lol.

      • melkipershero - May 29, 2013 at 6:29 PM

        As in if ita a close call on a block or charge look for Miami to get the call in their favor.

      • sublimepyro - May 30, 2013 at 11:04 AM

        They have been called for more fouls due to Indiana’s play. Indiana plays a lot more in the middle where it’s congested and Miami relies on the jump shot more. Clearly there will be more fouls against Miami. By only looking at the final numbers only shows your ignorance of the game. It is also clear Miami always gets more than it’s fair share of the 50/50 calls. They have all season. All it takes to see that is to watch the game without Miami tented glasses. Any unbiased person that knows basketball can tell you that.

        This series hasn’t been any different. The Pacers have overcome the refs to make it a 2-2 series. Not an easy thing to do given Stern’s love affair of the Heat.

      • Kurt Helin - May 30, 2013 at 11:29 AM

        It should be noted, 50/50 calls go to the aggressor most of the time. Fans hate that, but it’s the truth, and the Heat tend to get those calls because they tend to be the aggressors. That is their style. Not saying that is right, just that it is.

  22. jbeagles23 - May 29, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    How about the Stephenson flop? Twice. Or George hill falling away and yelling to get the call. Whoever wins this series is going to the finals with no dignity because the refs took it away in this series

    • mannyfresh209 - May 29, 2013 at 5:01 PM

      if i’m a ref in game 5, it’s gonna be a CRAZY physical game. let’s see like…30 fouls called or less TOTAL between the teams. let the best team take the 3-2 advantage in this series. get the media/masses off my back as a ref.

      game 4 drew WAY too much attention to the refs in this series. besides game 3, this series on its own has been super competitive and fun to watch. game 4 was frustrating and irritating to watch.

    • callisto9 - May 29, 2013 at 5:54 PM

      In defense of Stephenson, Ray Allen threw an elbow at him, and don’t forget that Dwade clocked him with a bow a couple games earlier while running down the court. It may be part flop, but also part genuine concern that a Heat player is going to bow him to the head at any time running down the court.

  23. deiong - May 29, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    the ultimate complainer has daddy stern around his ummm finger….

    • gmsingh - May 30, 2013 at 8:21 AM

      That’s the nice way of saying where his finger is.

  24. 1972wasalongtimeago - May 29, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    No excuses. Ref ref ref ref ref. Blah blah blah blah blah blah.

    Heat are playing terribly, and the Pacers are playing great. If the Heat play average the next two games, the Heat will win. If they play well, they’ll win big. If they play great, blowout. And if the Pacers just play a little imperfectly, that might help too.

    By the way, has a Hibbert shot swished yet? Seems every shot he takes bounces arount the rim 4 times before it goes in. That has to stop right? Stevenson throwing up 3s from the freaking 4th row?

  25. stlouis1baseball - May 29, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    “Seems every shot he takes bounces arount the rim 4 times before it goes in.”

    In a word…touch. Roy has serious touch. In Indiana…we call it the “Steve Alford.”

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