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vs. Miami
Eastern Conference finals
Series: Miami leads 3-1
Game 1: Indiana 107, Miami 96
Game 2: Miami 87, Indiana 83
Game 3: Miami 99, Indiana 87
Game 4: Miami 102, Indiana 90
Today: at Indiana, 8:30 p.m.
Friday: at Miami, 8:30 p.m. *
Monday: at Indiana, 8:30 p.m. *
* – if necessary
TV: All games on ESPN

Let a little sanity reign; blame lies with Pacers

So now come the black helicopters, the back-and-to-the-left crowd, the Bush-blew-up-the-towers goofs.

Neil Armstrong never walked on the moon. Elvis isn’t dead, he’s touring the Moons of Meepzorp with Beldar Conehead. Newtown never happened, it was a commie plot by President Obama and the rest of the gun confiscators, who want a disarmed America because ... well, because the NRA says so.

And your Indiana Pacers?

Oh, Paul George, don’t go there. Please don’t go there.

Too late, he did, blaming the refs for the Pacers’ Game 4 loss to Miami. And now the conspiracy squirrels are running amok (at least on my Twitter), saying it’s all a league plot to keep the Pacers out of the NBA Finals because the league wants LeBron in the Finals again, not some nondescript small-market team like the Pacers.

Fine. Forget for a minute, then, that anytime a team starts resorting to “the refs beat us” meme, it means the series is over.

Let’s say Paul George, who was fined $25,000 Tuesday for his public criticism of the officiating after Game 4, and Frank Vogel (because this stuff comes from the coach, don’t think it doesn’t) are right. Let’s say the conspiracy squirrels are right, too.

Let’s say there was something sinister about the fact that the Heat outscored the Pacers 30-11 at the free throw line Monday night, and shot 17 more free throws. Let’s say it’s all a vile scheme to deny the Pacers their due.

Let’s say it was the refs, not Roy Hibbert himself, who made Hibbert disappear again, scoring zero points in 22 minutes. Let’s say the refs enabled every one of LeBron James’ 32 points and 10 rebounds.

Let’s say it was the refs, not the Heat, who outscored the Pacers 20-6 in points off turnovers, and who led by as many as 23 points on occasion, and who, let’s not forget, won by double digits in a game the Pacers never were in.

I don’t know about you. But if the refs have the power to do all that, we should turn ’em loose on Congress.

“You can’t blame it on the refs when you lose by double digits,” said Luis Scola, apparently the only sane man in the Pacers’ locker room Monday night.

Sure. Because, listen, if this really is a conspiracy against the Pacers, how do you explain Game 1, when they shot 22 more free throws and outscored the Heat 29-10 from the stripe? How do you explain Games 2 and 3, when the free throws were virtually even (11-10 for the Heat in Game 2, 19-15 in Game 3)?

And finally, if the league well and truly doesn’t want the Pacers on the big stage, why wait until the conference finals to take them out? Why didn’t the refs do more to help Atlanta or Washington eliminate them?

“Because that would look too obvious!” the Society of the Grassy Knoll would no doubt cry.

Well, of course.

Now here. Take your meds.

Ben Smith has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1986. His columns appear four times a week. He can be reached by email at; phone, 461-8736; or fax 461-8648.