The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Sports Columns

May 29, 2014

Stephenson may key Pacers' chances

Consider this scary thought for the Indiana Pacers. Now, it might all come down to Lance Stephenson.

OK, he's offbeat, off-kilter and off-the-wall. Know what the Pacers are going to need Friday in Miami? Offbeat, off-kilter and off-the-wall. If it is decided by logic, they're deader than disco.

The Heat are 7-0 at home in these playoffs and have won 10 consecutive postseason games in their arena. They are two-time champions with every intention to threepeat. You don't fight this battle with conventional weapons. To go against that, give me the guy who blew in LeBron James' ear.

"He what?" Roy Hibbert said after Game 5, when told of that now-world-famous breath of defiance between rabble-rouser and superstar.

"We've got to take the good and the bad with Lance . . . when he's irritating people, I just hope he doesn't poke the bear."

Problem for the Pacers, now they have to go to the bear's place. Lance's act doesn't wear as well on the road.

Wednesday night was like a reprieve from the governor. "Desperate basketball," as David West called it. But here's what very likely won't happen again in Game 6.

Paul George won't score 31 points in the second half, after the entire Indiana roster scores 33 in the first.

The Pacers won't shoot 14 more free throws (not that it matters, if they're going to miss nine of them).

Stephenson won't blow in anyone's ear. That's pretty much a one-timer. "Just having fun and playing ball," he said. "Buffoonery," Miami's Ray Allen called it. Now there's a word you don't often hear in the NBA playoffs.

LeBron James won't have more personal fouls than field goals and rebounds combined. "We're expecting LeBron to be LeBron," George said. "And that's how we want it."

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Should the Pacers match Portland's offer sheet to center Roy Hibbert?

Yes, Hibbert is important to the team and the community
No, four years and $58 million is too much
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