Pacers file complaint to NBA over 78 calls, source says

May 9, 2024, 7:49 AM

The Indiana Pacers have submitted 78 instances of incorrect or non-calls to the NBA that they felt put them at a disadvantage in Games 1 and 2 against the New York Knicks, a league source told ESPN.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, speaking after Indiana fell behind 2-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 130-121 loss to New York on Wednesday, said the team had identified 29 questionable calls from Game 1. The source said the Pacers identified 49 plays from Game 2, which were incorrectly called or not called at all, and submitted them overnight to the NBA office.

Carlisle said they had decided not to send the Game 1 calls to the league office for review but reversed that decision after Game 2 had similar officiating issues from their perspective.

As part of NBA protocol, the clips will also be shared with the Knicks.

"I can promise you that we're going to submit these tonight," Carlisle said after being ejected in the final minute when he was given two technical fouls. "New York can get ready. They'll see 'em too. I'm always talking to our guys about not making it about the officials, but we deserve a fair shot."

A frustrated Carlisle also implied the Pacers were being penalized by officials because they were playing against the league's largest market.

"Small-market teams deserve an equal shot," Carlisle said. "They deserve a fair shot no matter where they're playing."

Carlisle was ejected after growing upset about several calls in Game 2, particularly when officials correctly reversed a double-dribble violation that could have given the Pacers a key possession with the outcome still in doubt.

In Game 1, a kicked ball violation was called in error against the Pacers but not corrected, a decision that ended up costing the team three vital points during the 121-117 loss.

The Madison Square Garden crowd, which was elated when star Jalen Brunson returned in the second half after missing the entire second quarter to deal with a right foot issue, made the environment hostile for the Pacers, and Carlisle said he believed it affected the officiating to favor the Knicks.

The Pacers will have to examine their defensive film as well. After allowing the Knicks to shoot 65% in the second half in Game 1 as they lost a lead, New York shot 67% in the third quarter of Game 2 and flipped the game, outscoring Indiana 36-18 behind Brunson's return.

Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton, who scored 34 points in bouncing back from putting up six in Game 1, wasn't going to put all the blame on the officiating.

"Let's not pretend like [officiating] is the only reason we lost. We just didn't play good enough," Haliburton said. "We just got to be better."

One other issue for the Pacers to review as the series moves to Indianapolis for Game 3 on Friday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN) is how to guard Brunson. Backup guard T.J. McConnell was somewhat effective in slowing Brunson in Games 1 and 2, but Carlisle took him out with seven minutes to play and the Knicks up two points, replacing him with starter Andrew Nembhard.

Brunson scored 10 of his 29 points down the stretch with Nembhard as his primary defender and is 14-of-21 shooting for 33 points against Nembhard over the first two games, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Carlisle said he considered bringing McConnell, who had a +10 plus/minus on the night, back in but decided against it because it wasn't how the team has played throughout the season.

McConnell supported his coach's decision.

"Rick is a Hall of Fame coach and has been doing this for a long time, so the rotations that he plays we trust that they're the right ones and I fully support him," McConnell said. "Whenever my number is called, I'll be ready."