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MIAMI -- Saying he felt the Heat maybe got "home cooking," Indiana Pacers star Paul George cited officiating as a difference-maker in his team's Game 4 loss in the Eastern Conference finals, putting him at risk for drawing a fine from the NBA.
The Heat took 17 more free throws and were called for 10 fewer fouls than the Pacers in their 102-90 victory, which gave them a 3-1 series lead.
George said he felt that discrepancy was the difference in a game where the Heat had a 23-point lead at one point in the second half.
After George made several references to unbalanced officiating, he was asked directly whether he thought the Heat benefited from favorable calls on their home floor.
He responded with a mix of sarcasm and frustration, saying, "What do you think?"
Then he talked about how deflating the whistles proved to be to his team.
"It's just demoralizing when [the free throws are] lopsided," George said. "I mean, I'm sorry to say, but that was the case. How rare is it we shoot 50 percent, turn the ball over around 13 or so times, outrebound a team and lose a ballgame? I thought we did a great job. I just thought we did a great job. ... But, again, they made 30 free throws, and that put them over the edge."
The Heat made 30 of 34 free throws; the Pacers made 11 of 17.
"I thought we outplayed them," George said. "They won this game at the free throw line. They really just were able to get to the line more than we were, but I thought we outplayed them. I mean, you can't tell me we don't attack the basket as much as they attack the basket. You can't tell me we're not aggressive. Maybe we're too aggressive."
Pacers coach Frank Vogel was called for a technical foul for arguing with referees in the third quarter. But the call the Pacers seemed to really get angry about was in the fourth quarter, when Lance Stephenson was called for an offensive foul on a drive to the basket when he made contact with Dwyane Wade as the Pacers were attempting a frantic comeback.
"I feel like we're just as aggressive as they are attacking the basket and making plays at the rim," George said. "Maybe this was just home cooking."
The Pacers took 35 shots in the paint, and the Heat took 25, although shots where fouls were called are not counted in that total.
"We were aggressive, I thought we consistently were getting two feet in the paint," David West said. "We learned some new rules tonight."
But not all the Pacers felt the same way.
"I don't think the refs impacted the game in any situation, especially a situation like this," Luis Scola said. "I don't think they impacted the game. They made mistakes, sometimes those mistakes will help you a little more, and sometimes they'll hurt you a little more and that's it. I don't believe they played a role in the outcome of the game. We lost by double digits, you can't blame it on the refs when you lose by double digits."
Stephenson and Roy Hibbert were in foul trouble for much of the game, limiting their effectiveness. Several of Hibbert's fouls were disputed by the Pacers. He finished the game with no points in 22 minutes.
"[Hibbert] got some touch fouls that put him on the bench," Vogel said. "And he didn't get in a rhythm."
LeBron James, who had 32 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat in the victory, questioned George's interpretation of the stat sheet.
"We did only have five turnovers, seven steals and 20 points off their turnovers," James said. "That has nothing to do with the free throw line."