LeBron was mostly LeBr-off the court

VIDEO: LeBron James responds to Lance Stephenson’s Game 5 antics

INDIANAPOLIS – Michael Jordan
had his “flu” game, Game 5 of the 1997 Finals when he played 44 minutes, scored 38 points and fell into Scottie Pippen‘s arms at the end, visibly spent but victorious.

LeBron James nearly had his “sit” game Wednesday night, Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers. Nearly, that is, because James wasn’t able to overcome the foul trouble that planted him on the Miami Heat bench for stretches in the first, second and third quarters. He played less than 25 minutes, scored a career playoff-low seven points on 2-for-10 shooting and still had a chance to own the outcome if only Chris Bosh‘s 3-pointer from the right corner (off James’ penetration and kick-out) had hit with 4.9 seconds left.

In place of that, then, the Pacers had their “asterisk” game.

What else can you call it when a hangdog team, mired in a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series, gets gifted with friendlier whistles than even Kate Upton hears? Never before in James’ career had he been called for five fouls in the first three quarters of the game. It took him all of 13:53 to pick up those five compared to, say, his seven fouls in 158 minutes in Miami’s entire first-round series against Charlotte.

If the NBA conspiracy theorists had turned James’ foul trouble into a drinking game, a lot of them might have passed out and missed a dynamite fourth quarter.

“The game is reffed by the refs,” James, conspicuously unruffled by his restricted performance, said afterward. “They ref how they see it. We play it, and you live the results.”

James’ first foul was a touch foul as Paul George tried to split between James and Dwyane Wade midway through the first quarter. He got his second due to George Hill‘s early aggression in attacking the paint, and subbed out with 2:43 left in the first.

He stayed out until 7:13 of the second quarter, coming in for Wade and lasting barely a minute before picking up a charge. The best player in the league (world?) was done again and went into halftime having made only one of his five shots and scoring two more points than you or me.

Funny thing was, Miami was up 42-33. A rare opportunity for Indiana was starting to look like a looming nightmare.

“LeBron was on the bench for a stretch,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We didn’t take advantage of it.”

Said George, who would wind up with 37 points but had only six by halftime: “When he was in foul trouble, everybody had to be aggressive. That’s a huge weapon that they’re missing. Everybody was aware that he was on the bench and how limited this team was without him, and how much everybody had to step up.”

Except the Pacers didn’t. While Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen were hitting 3-pointers to keep the Heat in front, Indiana was misfiring from the arc (1-for- 8) and from the foul line (2-for-6). James was over on the bench, as calm as a commuter waiting for a late bus. At least he had a whole ‘nother half in which to do his thing.

Or did he? James fouled Hibbert on a layup just 21 seconds into the third quarter. At 8:34 he got nailed with No. 5 while scrambling against Lance Stephenson for a loose ball. The Heat’s lead was eight, on its way to 11 when Lewis hit another 3-pointer.

“It sucks for me because I’m not able to make plays to help our team win,” James said later. “I made a couple in the fourth, but 24 minutes is not enough for me to make an imprint on the game like I know I’m accustomed to.

“So you just continue to help the guys from the bench, let them know what you can see when you’re in foul trouble and ways we can try to exploit them. But I’m much better on the floor than I am off it, for sure.”

That third quarter turned ugly for Miami. Four-and-a-half minutes after James sat down, Indiana pulled even at 50-50. It was 64-57 Pacers heading into the fourth, the Heat getting outscored 27-12 after James got yanked.

In the fourth, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra waited 90 seconds before subbing in James. He scored five points, shooting 1-for-5 again, and clearly was out of rhythm and not in synch with the rest of the game. But he still commanded enough respect that, on Miami’s last possession, Hibbert came to help when James drove into the lane with George on his hip. If Bosh’s shot had dropped, James would have been lauded for his playmaking.

Instead, he was remembered for his absence.

“We run a lot through LeBron and he’s our best defender, our best offensive player, and our best player, period,” Bosh said. “Anytime you have your best player out, it’s a little bit more difficult. And he creates for everybody, so we had to fend for ourselves out there. He spoils us a little bit.”

James seemed determined afterward to shrug off the foul calls, a conscious effort not to bellyache the way the Pacers had after Game 4. He talked more than once about “the things that we can control and not the things we can’t control.”

What he and the Heat can control now in this series is Game 6, Friday in Miami.

“We’re expecting LeBron to be LeBron,” George said, “and that’s how we want it. … We’re capable of winning the ballgame with LeBron scoring 30 to 40 points.”

Careful what you wish for, young fella. James scored seven and Indiana won by three. And he might not hear five whistles the rest of this postseason.


  1. AkronsBig Mike #1 fan of LBJ says:

    When Labron fling his hands after he get a non-called foul he is legit, But he doesn’t dwell on the bad call or complain at the refs to cause aggavation to the point of receiving a technical. He just keeps his mouth shut and keep on pushing. He knows he has studied the game of basketball and now his chance has come to be the best and reigning King. Your Fans are proud of you.

  2. leborn jaems says:

    its ok guys.. lets not dwell on things we cant control.. if they want to take me out of the game its ok.. the pacers are weak and barely made it out of game 5 without me.. they wasted their money on one game..

  3. Honey Boo Boo says:

    I bet PG really liked this home cooking this time. I mean seriously, that 5th foul call on LeBron when he was going for the ball and Stephenson literally tried pulling LeBron James back, but yet it was a foul on LeBron somehow. Oh or how about that attempt those referees made to end the game early on that play where the Pacers were in bounding the ball and Battier was playing great defense in front of PG and PG runs at him knocking them both over. Then he got to shoot a free throw and they still got ball back. Eh oh well I’m actually grateful toward the officiating. Now Miami can finish the series in Miami.

  4. Big man in the post says:

    The NBA is fixed, no doubt. A lot of money would have been lost if the Heat finished the Pacers off last night. So the league instructs the refs to do their best to make sure that didn’t happen. The ONLY way the Pacers could beat the Heat is if James doesn’t play. A few phantom fouls is your answer. Adam Silver is a joke, but what did we expect? NBA should be ashamed of itself. I can’t wait to watch the Heat destroy the Pacers in game 6. Won’t even be close. I bet Stephenson cries at the end. What a bunch of cry-babies.
    Also, anyone else notice how Paul George uses 2 hands to push anybody any chance he gets? The guy is a dirty player, he’ll get what’s coming to him.

  5. ROMULO CATOR says:

    Lebron scored 7 points with 5 fouls. That was last night. Lebron does not play that bad twice. So game 6 will be a
    big surprise. Watch Lebron play his best in game 6 tomorrow night. Miami Heat wins game 6.

  6. mark says:

    This is the stuff I’m talking about for 1 lebron James isn’t the best player in the world I feel there are a alot of better players then him, for 2 now that the refs call him out on his stuff its suddenly the biggest issue ever, and lastly I’d your the greatest or one of the greatest you shouldn’t use the refs as the reason you lost a game because your obviously not playing the game right if they call the fouls js.

    • flex says:

      He clearly said the refs had nun to do with it and theres alot better players than him ur an idiot hands down quit watching ball u make no sense

  7. ManUpOrShutUp says:

    There were lots of rigged games in the playoffs. I’m a heat fan and my second choice is okc but I think okc should have lost in the grizzlies and clippers series. Indiana should have lost to atlanta. The NBA used to be good to watch but now it’s just like wrestling. I hope they let the players shape the outcome of the games and not the refs.

  8. ManUpOrShutUp says:

    There were lots of rigged games in the playoffs. I’m a heat fan and my second choice is okc but I think okc should have lost in the grizzlies and clippers series. Indiana should have lost to atlanta. The NBA used to be good to watch but now it’s just like wrestling. I hope they let the players shape the outcomes of the games and now the refs.

  9. AdamTheBigDaddy says:

    All I know is that NBA is gonna lose tons of fans if they keep these fixed games and bias officiating. Wake up, that is not how you make money.

  10. Big Al says:

    Given a very weak Eastern Conference, a 4-1 Heat win would have left them as the only really good team in that half of the league. LeBron was destined to get into foul trouble in Game 5, and the refs pounced on every perceived contact he had. But this still wasn’t enough to lock in a win for the Pacers. All the food was already prepared for them to the point of putting it into their mouths. All they to do was chew, yet they struggled. George finally came into his own when the guy whose shadows he lives in ever since was on the bench for such a long time. In the end, it was just three points. Game 6 is gonna be so predictable.

  11. DavidC says:

    Was this a game of make up calls from game #4 or did the Refs get a big fat check from the networks to extend it to another game???? We all know how many millions are made from each game!!! We the people got cheated from a good performance by Lebron by some ticky-tack bogus fouls!!!

  12. CAVS FAN says:

    Everyone saying it was bad reffing remember the refs gave Miami game 4 with some bogus calls. In all honesty the Pacers should be 4-1 against Miami right now but due to dirty play by Dwade taking PG out of the game and the refs giving the Heat game 4 they basically gave the Heat the series since theres no way Lebron and the superfriends are losing two in a row

    • flex says:

      Ur dumb seriously ^

    • TMac says:

      I see there are still some Cavs fans that are bitter…..don’t act like you wouldn’t be a fan boy of Lebron if Lebron were to go back to Cleveland lol.

  13. i hate the Pacers the heat has to win!!!

  14. a typical stranger says:

    I personally have nothing against Lebron and the Miami Heat but deep down I wished that Bosh should have ended the series had he made the 3 from the corner and Rashard Lewis and ray allen did a fantastic job of keeping Miami in the game so I give them tons of credit despite em not being a Heat fan

  15. Brian says:

    Let’s finish in game 6 Heat…..LB already had a chance to tie the game and play in overtime but already made wrong decision to gave he ball to CB in the corner. Let’s make a right in game 6 to send Pacers to vacation.

  16. Ro1212 says:

    Ball with 15 sec to play inbounds clearly touched George last. Battier was so sure I just knew after seeing second replay this was miami ball. But no no, the instructed refs gave indiana whiners ball so they wouldnt cry after the game. So clear this is all about money and keepin series alive…

  17. rigg-ed says:

    The NBA badly needed the revenue from a friday night game. Pacers got this game handed to them on a adam silver plate.

  18. Sam says:

    So when Miami has a free throw disparity in game 4, nobody says a word. But because Lebron gets into foul trouble, everything is fixed! Love subjective writers

    • Level Headed says:

      Nobody says anything? Are you serious, how about the fines handed out to the Pacer players. Nobody said anything? That’s all every heat hating person was posting on this very site was how they didn’t get calls and how rigged the game was and how the league loves the Heat. The real question is how does George, West, and other Pacer players rip the refs and say all we want is to let us play, then when the refs give them an absolute gift, by taking out the opposing teams best player, they have nothing to say, except ya I was just really in a groove and it didn’t matter who was guarding me… Give me a break, maybe you was in a groove because the man that has owned you was taken out of the Game by the officials, and the limited minuted he was in the game he couldn’t even play his game, because of fear of more fouls. Nobody said anything.. you’re funny, what you ment is nobosy said anything from the Heat, because they take the good and the bad like professionals and keeo their mind on the game, but there was plenty said, just not from the Champs.

  19. king_surla says:

    Refs are part of the game theyre not robots they make mistakes, and make up for it on next calls to try and correct it a bit. But nevertheless enjoy it as i think this would be the final finals run for miami’s big three coz next year im sure pat will bring some fresh knees to surround lebron again…

  20. Stephan Tompkins says:

    I am a staunch Spurs Fan. After the first quarter the other night I had to give it. If this has become trend. Audio NBA.

  21. Stephan Tompkins says:

    The NBA should cut the fixes, and shorten the seriws and let the winners win or lose. The fix-it factor has been there for awhile, but it is more obvious now than before. The NBA is going to end up just like the Wresteling Business. Slaves, Slaves, Slaves. In addition all this cheap ads taking away the entertainment factor, hurts, hurts. Since we are into garbage there are two more sertious problems pending that will hurt the NBA like the Sterling. Stephan

  22. sally says:

    Watch Stupidson when they play in Miami, you won’t see any antics and stupidity, other than just the normal ones. He only does it when their on home court. It’s no big deal for Miami, just an extra game when they could have been resting for the Finals but they can deal with it, it will not be a problem Fri. night. I think it’s funny the Pacers did all that work to get home court advantage and they won’t even get a game 7. Hahahaha ! Game 6 will be Pacers last game. On to the finals Heat !!

  23. Jether says:

    I really hate they called lebron as king! He is not a king stupid bastard…he is only average player! There are many players in NBA history who are way better than him but they still humble not to be called as king! I also believe that NBA are partly fixed game. This time their preference to market in NBA is lebron so it could be heat as winner for the finals again.

  24. Titus says:

    The refs were terrible!! Hope I dont get fined.

  25. TMac says:

    PG’s performance was good, but it is going to be questioned and tainted due to the fact Lebron was in foul trouble and warming up the bench for half of the game. PG rarely…and I mean rarely scores like that when Lebron is in the game……but I’m not gonna say that caused the Heat the game because it didn’t. The Heat had an 11 point lead while Lebron was in foul trouble and still had a chance to win it….the rest of team stepped up accordingly.

    Could the game have gone differently with Lebron playing his normal minutes? Absolutely….I believe the Heat would have won……but shouda, woulda, coulda….oh well.

    I did NOT like that play at the end for the Heat. Bosh hitting the game winning three? I know Bosh can hit those 3’s, but I would have thought Ray Allen would have been the man to go to because he has proven he thrives in those type of situations.

    I like how Lebron responded after the game about his early foul trouble. He was very mature about it….but if that was PG…… : ).

    I want to watch a game were both sides are not flopping, jeez. That Battier flop at the end was so ridiculous that I laughed….like wtf kind of flop was that.

    It is what it is, though. I have been saying Miami in 6…and I still believe that.

    • iamironman says:

      Good point. But still, Bosh had hit some game winners for them before. It just didn’t go in that time. I liked how the Pacers fought but this game will certainly be remembered as the game LBJ almost didn’t play in because of bogus fouls.

      • TMac says:

        Yeah, I know Bosh has hit those shots before…but Ray Allen is the man at those shots. Bosh is a good option for the game winning three…but Ray Allen is better.

  26. jeff says:

    As far as I’m concerned, the last four years have been an “asterisk” for the heat. Cheating hacks! Wow! The refs actually called fouls on Lequit, and go figure, its a problem. Too bad NBA coddles their players. Bet a bunch of bad calls go the other way in game six, and all you’ll hear about is how good the heat were. Again, a joke!

    • Level Headed says:

      Did you post the same coment after George and West were crying last game, ha ha probably not. Keep up the hating.

  27. Tyler Traywick says:

    the heat lost both games on fouls and free throws distributions. but not one heat player complained about it. Pacers lost game 4 probably for the same reason and PG and David West are bitchin. #Shows where my respect lies.

  28. Yusa says:

    Lebron had a bad game and we know it. Thanks to foul trouble he’s out of rhythm and some of those fouls are arguable. Yet the heat almost took an overtime. George exploded in 4th and Pacers survived the series. Give them credit. However it’s hard to imagine the Heat losing at the Pacers in Game 6 wherein they hold a home court advantage plus a Lebron James who’s gonna play no less than 35 minutes and they didn’t lose 2 times in a row in playoff series for a while. Hoping to see a head to head battle between George and Lebron in the 4th in Game 6. This is interesting to watch rather than watching a blowout game.

  29. Bob says:

    What on Earth does Jordan’s game 5 against the Jazz in 1997 have to do with todays game?

    • DWadeTheOne says:

      I was thinking exactly this. Not remotely the same or close enough to bring to the table. At least 2 of these fouls were bad calls. The one that was on Stephenson was a really bad call. You can see how Stephenson grabbed James and tried to push him to the floor WITH BOTH hands and he wasn’t called with a foul there. Plus Hibbert was running in almost all posesions that he got on the paint.

    • nbapacersfan says:

      @Bob: Jordan’s “flu” game… Lebron’s “sit” game… ummm… I really don’t get the comparison Aschburner is going for here :/

    • Another Heat Fan says:

      exactly. these writers man… sometimes it’s too obvious they’re just trying to make a shiny story out of nothing.

      Lebron got in foul trouble, he sat down, THE END.

      but no, that’s not catchy enough, how about this:

      Lebron gets in foul trouble and barely plays in game 5, unlike Michael Jordan who was sick in game 5 and played 44 minutes!!!!!!!!

      maybe that’s not enough exclamation marks…

  30. home cooking buddy, and you know that

  31. barangayboso says:

    “We’re expecting LeBron to be LeBron,” George said, “and that’s how we want it. … We’re capable of winning the ballgame with LeBron scoring 30 to 40 points.” LANCE 2.0??

    Why can’t you just shut up your mouth and give us another performance like that??

    • TTKIN says:

      This article tore that little segment from his overall quote. He actually gave lots of respect to MIA in that press conference. Right after saing that, he said “we cant win when their entire team is going crazy. Rashard and Ray were awesome tonight, luckily we were able to overcome it”. Lance is way worse than PG haha.

  32. German J Rigesti, MD says:

    I did not whatch the game but was able to predict Pacers win, yet another fixed game by NBA, they have to sell tickets, this is a fix circus, it is rather sad to see year after year this “professional” sport is nothing but an act. Guess what Miami wins at their turf and move on to the finals. Lebron is not the best player, I could also be the best provided the refs are as cooperative and enabling to me like they do with players like Lebron, K Durnat etc. When the NBA wants the heat or for that matter any other team, all they have to do is call non existent fouls or existent fouls that they normally don’t charge. Now let me guess Spurs win tomorrow, loose the next game and win the last game at home wow, I am Nostrodamus!!!!!!

  33. JoaoMartins says:

    Boy, this Steve Ashburner is a real LeBron-head huh?

  34. joe says:

    I knew this would happen, keeping lebron on the bench so the crybabies would have a chance.. doesn’t everybody know the league and sponsors want every series to 7 games so they can make more millions? the refs are probably corrupt.. miami would have won if bogus calls against lebron hadn’t been made.. the behaviour of the champs is far superior to the wannabe pacers.. does anyone besides pacers fans want to see the, in the finals where they’ll lose 4-0 to the western conference champs? I really doubt it!

    • vandy says:

      LeBron cry babies, wow like lebron good but they lost. Big whoop. Spyrs sweeped grizz last year and its all about money? Okay well when pacers win friday you’ll be complaining then too

  35. rey says:

    Miami on game 6! That’s it!!

  36. iamironman says:

    The title made me laugh. But seriously, Indy got lucky that PG exploded. It was nice to see the other Heat players step up but it was not enouh. Just wish that CB hit that dagger 3 to end the series

  37. crazy says:

    There were lots of bad calls on both sides tonight. Lebron was off his game even during the minutes he played, and his lame attempt to draw a foul on Stevenson on that airball 3 was pretty funny.

    I’ve got nothing against Lebron and some of the calls against him were sketchy. All players have nights like that. In fact, Lebron was a lot cooler about his foul trouble in the post game than you are as a Heat fanboy.

    Miami is a good team full of good players, and nice guys from what I’ve seen, but it doesn’t mean you need to belittle Indiana by saying that they won because of bad refereeing.

    • zziek says:

      Yeah…. but they did win by bad refereeing. Those fouls were bogus. Watch the replay of Foul #5. Stephenson mauls his back and pulls him away from the ball. Lebron dives for it and barely touches him (and Stephenson is already falling down btw). The NBA expected this series to go to 7. Miami was about to make quick work of them, and if they can squeeze an extra game out they make that many thousands more. There’s a reason Lebron has never had 5 fouls in 3 quarters.

    • blind says:

      You need to check your eyes. Refs take LeBron out of the game in under 14 minutes due to an array of bogus calls (didn’t know basketball was a no contact sport) and Miami as a team shot 8 FTs. That is less than what a single player like Durant can get just from showing up to the court. All conveniently occurring on an elimination game and after Pacers cried from game 4. Just how blatant of a ref bias do you need, they must think fans are stupid or something.

    • ARVIC says:

      I think George did it first, ahaha! “home cooking” remember? and he’s fined for it. you make me laugh.

    • Pacing the Pacers says:

      …Even Lance knows that game was lost, but it’s ok!, you can have it, you need the money to pay for your buffoon and your 3 extra players on the floor.

    • NBA Fan says:

      That’s what Indiana said when they lost to Miami in Game 4, the game was won by bad reffing. I didn’t hear that from this Heat team, not yet but who knows. A lot of inconsistent calls this season. But you are right, there are times that players have off night in some point in time. Let’s just hope for a good Game 6.

    • TMac says:

      So it is okay for Pacers fans and the Pacers themselves to say the Heat have been winning games in this series due to bad officiating??

      • Vanbarry says:

        Love him or hate him, Lebron James is the best player in the NBA today. That being said as a fan it is a shame the way this game was blatantly handed to the Indianna Pacers. So much emphasis is always place on home court which is only relevant emotionally. A foul is a foul if called correctly no matter if you in Miami or Indianna. It’s easy to say Lebron had a bad foul plagued game, unless you saw the shameful fouls being called against him.Had all things been equal,Indianna’s starting five would have fouled out. Had that game been played in Miami they wopuld have had to escort the refs out of the arena. The haters what to attack Lebron for being called King James, remember this , the name was given to him not by him.t For those of us who played the game know that players of Lebrons talents could have played well in any era of the game.If only the league had as muich integrity as this fine young man.