Did Vogel’s Timeout Change Game 2?


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NEW YORK – Playoff games are still 48 minutes long, so even in a slow-paced Eastern Conference game, each team gets the ball at least 85 times. Unless it’s late in the fourth quarter, it’s hard to point to any 98-second, five-possession sequence as being a real difference-maker … especially when the final margin is 26 points.

But it’s also hard not to point to Pacers coach Frank Vogel‘s decision to call a timeout and take Roy Hibbert out of the game with 3:05 left in the third quarter as one that might have killed Indiana’s chances of taking a commanding, let’s-go-home-and-finish-the-sweep, 2-0 lead in the conference semifinals.

After trailing the New York Knicks by as many as 13 points in the first half of Game 2 on Tuesday, the Pacers had fought back and taken a 64-62 lead. They had scored 22 points on their last 13 possessions, had just hit two open 3-pointers off dribble-penetration, and had just made a stop when Carmelo Anthony missed a catch-and-shoot 3-point attempt.

With Lance Stephenson dribbling up court, Vogel asked for time, a curious decision given the rhythm his team was in offensively. There would have been a TV timeout at the next dead ball, but the ball was live and everything was going right for the Pacers.

Once play resumed, everything went wrong. And it wasn’t just the offense that the timeout affected, because Vogel chose at that time to replace Hibbert, who had been protecting the rim so brilliantly, with Jeff Pendergraph, who had yet to play in the series.

On the first possession after the timeout, Paul George came off a screen but couldn’t handle George Hill‘s pass as he curled into the lane. On the other end of the floor, Anthony (originally guarded by Pendergraph) blew past West (who had switched on to him at the high post), and Hibbert wasn’t there to stop him, because Hibbert was on the bench. After West missed on a drive, Anthony again blew past him for an and-one dunk on Pendergraph’s head.

After the free throw, Pendergraph was whistled for an offensive foul while trying to set a screen. It was just five possessions, three for the Pacers and two for the Knicks, but it changed the game. Vogel quickly brought Hibbert back in, but it was too late. Momentum had swung and the Pacers couldn’t stop it.

They went an excruciating 12 minutes and 19 seconds without a basket, seemingly regressing all the way to November when they were playing the ugliest basketball in the league.

Energized, the Knicks increased their defensive pressure. On their heels, the Pacers couldn’t respond. They were rattled and they couldn’t get good, uncontested looks at the basket.

“We just stalled out,” David West said.

More important, they allowed a New York offense that had been stalled out for 4 1/2 games to catch fire. The Knicks shot 14-for-21 (3-for-5 from 3-point range) during that 12:19 stretch, blitzing the Pacers with a 36-4 run that evened the series as it heads to Indiana for Game 3 on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ABC).

While Vogel’s timeout was certainly questioned at the time, it wasn’t necessarily an awful decision because the TV timeout was coming anyway and nobody could foretell what was coming once these teams took the floor again.

“I usually use that situation to put something in while we have the ball,” Vogel said.

Furthermore, Hibbert wasn’t going to play all 24 minutes of the second half. He had to come out at some point.

But the Pacers were in control of the game, the series and of Anthony. And then they weren’t.

Prior to the timeout, Anthony was mired in a brutal slump, having made just 42 (32 percent) of his previous 131 shots. After the timeout, he shot 6-for-8. He followed the layup and and-one dunk at the end of the third quarter with a jumper, two threes and another and-one in the lane early in the fourth.

It was as if a switch had been flipped, making him more confident and aggressive. Once he got going, his teammates followed suit.

“When shots go in, it eases up everything,” Anthony said afterward. “When shots are falling, the game is much easier for myself and everyone else out there on the court.”

Maybe ‘Melo finally finds his rhythm without Hibbert taking that quick rest. He was the league’s leading scorer and not even the league’s No. 1 defense can hold him down forever. The Knicks’ offense was a lot sharper in the first half on Tuesday than it was in Game 1.

And maybe the Pacers would have eventually hit an offensive skid whether Vogel called a timeout or not. They were a below-average offensive team in the regular season, they had already committed 15 turnovers by that 3:05 mark in the third. Plus, bench production has been a problem all year.

Maybe this series was destined to be 1-1. The Knicks were at home and obviously the more desperate team.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

28 Comments

  1. ゴヤール says:

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  2. LeBrontourage says:

    Are you kidding me? Just accept that the Knicks shut them down.Stupid writers never give New York credit, just maybe they defeated an above average team like Indiana because they’re BETTER THAN THEM? Wow, what blasphemy…

  3. New York Knicks says:

    flihosdaputa

  4. Urtoostoopid says:

    Forget Joan Shoemockinbirds article! LETS GO KNICKS! LETS GO KNICKS!

  5. Brian says:

    That timeout was a momentum breaker. I don’t care if there’s a player on the floor that you want to substitute. If the Pacers made a basket there and made it a two possession game the Knicks probably would have called a timeout anyway. Inexperienced coach right there.

  6. Idiots !!!! says:

    its an artical about what ifs???? therefore its an unknown so there is no definitive outcome to it… I think he’s trying to make the point of ceasing momentum…. and for the people who dont believe it, then you’re going against any coach who calls a time out when his team is being smoked by a points run…. it was a bad time out and given they were ahead it was def the wrong time to call it… whether Melo got hot after that or not, noone will know that IF that would have happened IF vogel didnt call it… its a ponder article you bums… but yes vogel did stuff it up. NEVER stop your team when theyre actually scoring, lol * slaps head *

  7. MARK MY WORDS says:

    Knicks in FIVE

  8. qwerty says:

    why is it when the knicks win its always about the other team’s mistakes? stupid stupid article

  9. RAPSFAN22 says:

    Yes he could have left Hibbert in the game, he could have left David West in the game too. The problem was they both had 4 fouls each and the way the calls were being thrown around they would have gotten their 5th fouls and would have had to sit out significant mins in the 4th anyways. The main reason they lost is because they started acting like they were Golden State running up and down chucking 3 pointers for half of a quarter. If they would have just stuck to their style they would have slowed the game down, this would have atleast not allowed the Knicks to capitalize on their fast pace mistakes which leads to a scramble on defense. This series is going to go back and forth like this because both teams are inconsistent, next game I can see a low scoring grind out win by the Pacers, then game 4 another fast pace knicks style win. Either way both teams are not ready for Chicago or Miami in the next round so they really need to start getting their stuff together.

  10. fred says:

    Is John Schuhmann an idiot for writing this article ?

    Maybe..

    Maybe not.

  11. greenboy says:

    doubt that would have happend anyway dont get me wrong give credit to melo and the gang but calling a timeout when your team is on agreat run with momentum on their side and the other team with there backs against the wall is just stupid and take out your best defender worst decision ever just let him play and sure for right now you could blame it on the timeout alone but in all reality it was all on vogel

  12. iivviiccaa79 says:

    stupid article…

  13. Sintido kumon says:

    This is the same guy who said there’s no easy answers for the Knicks to win against Indiana,now he’s blaming the coach for the blowout??what a hypocrite,give credit to the Knicks for playing the way they did…and keep underestimating them all you want but they have a good chance as any team in the playoffs to win it all…

  14. gutangga says:

    Vogel did the exact same thing with Hibbert in last year’s playoffs.

  15. DiZarTicleSakZ says:

    This article really s**ks! Give respect to the New York Knicks men…Pacers lose cuz Melo was smokin hot..and it was a total team effort…you writer should better interview the players of the pacers why they lose! Worst write-up ever…

  16. gutangga says:

    Didn’t Vogel do the exact same thing with Hibbert in last year’s playoffs?

  17. NBA EYE says:

    Clearly a bad timeout. NY was beginning to get rattled. The timeout saved ‘em, could have been 2-0. Just could’ve been.

    • Lorenzo says:

      For all we know NY could have gotten a run with or without a timeout called. There is no way possible anyone can determine what triggered it other than being on the court.

  18. Chris says:

    I find this notion a little bit disrespectful to the Knicks. Just slightly though. It almost comes off as the Pacers allowed themselves to get blown out, as if the Knicks defense and Offense had nothin to do with it.

  19. Icko says:

    Pacers in 6.

  20. Another Heat Fan says:

    Oh come on, a timeout can’t be solely responsible for changing the game THAT drastically

    Yes it can change momentum, but sometimes (and i know it’s rarely used that way) it can keep momentum going.
    If your team is winning playing a certain way, the other team is making adjustments to shut down your current strategy, But if you change your strategy right when the other team was about to figure it out, it’ll keep momentum rolling in your favor while the other team remains perplexed.

    I know that’s not what happened. What happened was the Knicks realized they are playing in MSG, and they rode their crowd into an epic run. It happens. Had very little to do with the timeout (it would have happened anyway).

  21. B.A.N.K. says:

    No way, in that game they’re going downhill anyway. With melo hot like that and others are making 3s, there’s nothing you can do. Stop finding excuses!

  22. It’s all good, Pacers accomplished some of what they wanted, the 1st of 2 @ msg is better than none. Go get it Pacers!!!

  23. pekku le tip says:

    I think the Knicks would have won this game one way or another!
    I think it will go all the way to Game 7!

  24. Try logic says:

    What is the point of this article? Is there an argument? Or a conclusion?

    In my opinion, Schuhmann just wrote and published speculations.

    There is no thrust of the argument, no main point, no central claim to this article that I can identify.

    And even less evidence to support whatever he is claiming (if anything).

    If you don’t have a claim, and your conclusion is a string of “maybes”.

    What is the point of this article?

  25. nice spelling says:

    excruciating* — not excrutiating
    jeez proofread or something?

  26. Soji Varughese says:

    what the heck would hibbert have done? most of all the shots came from the perimeter!

    • momentum says:

      its called momentum basketball is all about momentum.. and the momentum can switch after just one play… that’s what happened in this case… take hibbert out melo gets a and one dunk, he gets confidence, he gets hot. his shots go down his team shots go down cuz that one play changed the momentum brought up their confidence… knicks win