A controversial foul call against Iman Shumpert in the closing seconds of regulation allowed the Pacers to come back and beat the Knicks 103-96 in overtime.
With 9.2 seconds remaining and the Knicks leading 89-86, Paul George inbounded the ball to David West, who quickly handed it back to George. After two quick dribbles, George squared his shoulders and launched a deep left-angle three-pointer from well beyond the
As Shumpert reached out to contest the shot, which missed badly, he appeared to lightly graze George's right elbow. The referee called a foul on the play, much to Shumpert's great surprise and dismay, and George was awarded three free throws with 5.2 seconds remaining in the game. Here's a look at the contact via @CJZero.
The career 80.3 percent free throw shooter knocked down all three shots to tie the game. New York was unable to score on the other end, forcing overtime.
Indiana handily won the extra period, dropping New York to 3-7. The Pacers improved to 10-1, which stands as the best record in the Eastern Conference.
This appeared to be the right call, even though the contact was as minimal as it gets and the game's outcome hung in the balance. Knicks coach Mike Woodson agreed, telling reporters afterwards that the mistake was made by Shumpert, not by the referees.
"He's a young player," Woodson said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "Just gave a foul that we didn't need at that moment. ... I looked at the tape. He got [George] on his elbow, and Joey [Crawford] made the right call."
New York was up by three points and theoretically could have fouled George on purpose prior to the shot to prevent the game-tying attempt and put him on the line for two free throws. The Knicks did not pursue that strategy and that proved to be a costly decision thanks to Shumpert's gaffe.
Numbers crunched by 82Games.com and DePauw University coach Bill Fenlon strongly suggest that fouling when up by three is the smarter play from a statistical standpoint, but Woodson made it clear in a 2010 New York Times article that he was a staunch proponent of playing defense rather than fouling.
“I never take the foul,” said Woodson, who was the coach of the Hawks at the time. “I just always put it on our team to defend.”
George finished with a game-high 35 points (on 12-for-26 shooting), five rebounds, four assists and five steals in 49 minutes. George Hill added 23 points (on 7-for-18 shooting), eight rebounds and three assists.
led the Knicks with 30 points (on 10-for-28 shooting), 18 rebounds and three assists. J.R. Smith
chipped in 21 points (on 8-for-19 shoooting) and five rebounds off the bench.