Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Sports

Pacers not dismayed

MIAMI — Losing a game at the buzzer, no less than a playoff game on the road against the reigning NBA champion Heat, would seem to have potential to demoralize the Pacers. Or not.

"Our belief," coach Frank Vogel said Thursday, a day after the 103-102 overtime loss, "has strengthened."

Barely 12 hours after LeBron James scored on a drive as time expired in overtime to give the Heat a win in Game 1 of the East final, the Pacers were more steeled than shaken when they arrived for practice. The second-guessing of Vogel's decision to keep Roy Hibbert on the bench for the final play was still going strong, but the Pacers say they're mentally fine.

"Very encouraged," Vogel said. "Our belief in our ability to beat this team has strengthened after Game 1. Our familiarity in the playoffs, in the playoff series grows with each day, grows with each game, and there's a lot of things we can definitely do better."

For as compelling as Game 1 was — James' 30-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist effort, Chris "Birdman" Andersen making all seven of his shots, David West and Hibbert combining for 20 field goals — both the Pacers and Heat expect tonight's game to simply be better.

"We can get better," James said. "I think both teams didn't play to the level that they're capable of playing."

Vogel's decision not to have the 7-foot-2 Hibbert in for the final play was still creating a buzz Thursday. With Miami down by one, James took an inbounds pass with 2.2 seconds left, drove left past Paul George and easily dropped a left-handed layup in as time expired.

"I may have been able to get a hand on it," Hibbert said. "I may not have. He may have done something differently. … You just have to move on."

Vogel said the second-guessing didn't bother him, adding he has already moved on: "I don't think you can say you're the better team when that team has done what they've done. But I believe we can beat them."

Long odds: The Grizzlies, don't have history on their side when they take on the Spurs on Saturday in Game 3 of the West final. Though the Grizzlies rallied from an 0-2 deficit against the Clippers in the first round, becoming only the 10th team to win four in a row, no NBA team has won two series in the same post­season after trailing 0-2.

All-NBA team: The Heat's LeBron James was a unanimous pick for the All-NBA team while the Lakers' Kobe Bryant earned his record-tying 11th first-team selection. James received all 119 votes for the first team from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Bryant tied Utah's Karl Malone with his 11th first-team nod.

Around the league: Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony suffered a small tear in the cartilage of his left shoulder late in the regular season. He will rest for the next 3-4 weeks in the hopes he can avoid surgery.

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