This is one of the things that drives me crazy about the NBA, and one of the many reasons I’m not a big fan. Sloppy, illegal screens. LeBron James threw one tonight, and amazingly he got called for it: his sixth foul with 56 seconds remaining and the Heat trailing by 4 to the Pacers.
Dwyane Wade was driving with the Pacers’ Lance Stephenson (I think) defending, when James came to the top of the key to set an on-ball screen. Seeing that Stephenson could slip by, LeBron stuck out his hip, and his leg (see it in the video above), making contact with Stephenson and drawing the foul.
LeBron then headed to the penalty box for his illegal hip check. Old time hockey! He hadn’t fouled out of the game since the 2012 playoffs. Pacers win, 99-92, series tied 2-all.
So is it a foul? Of course. As a coach you teach your players to set balanced screens, and it’s the ballhandler’s job (or another offensive player without the ball) to run his man into it. This information comes to us from the far-off, exotic land of Fundamenalstan. The tourism economy there has been struggling recently.
Of course, this isn’t called a lot in the NBA, and especially not in the final minute of a close playoff game. But it should be. Maybe screens are a point of emphasis in the playoffs, I don’t know. So, set a better screen next time. Presumably, impressionable kids are watching.
On an ensuing possession, Wade attempted to step back for a 3 after he had already stopped his dribble, and was called for a travel. The replay showed he appeared to be auditioning for Dancing With the Stars without dribbling.
And in the first quarter, we had this skirmish between Ray Allen and Stephenson, which included Stephenson pretending he got an elbow to the head when he didn’t.
Then there was the 24-second shot clock violation on the Pacers when the ball clearly hit the rim, and the long replay time out in the fourth quarter that gave possession to the Heat, even though replays pretty clearly indicated the ball touched a Miami player last before going out of bounds.
There were just as many calls that went against Miami, in game that seemed rather strangely officiated from the start. But what a sight it would be for the officials to begin calling fouls on those bogus screens every time. You might even get me to watch an entire game from beginning to end.