1) It is TUESDAY, MAY 27. At right, Godzilla devours E.T. and that adorable kid. 2) We needn't require an annual holiday (Memorial Day) to honor our war dead. Thank you today, too, fallen heroes. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat and the good noise/bad noise forever surrounding LeBron James. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Nine Heat truths we hold self-evident, Heat-Pacers Game 3, Charles Barkley, Mel Kiper's early prejection & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Instagram and Vine.
Click on Thou Shall Not Irritate LeBron James for my column off last night's Heat win.
FIVE INDICATIONS THE PACERS ARE IMPLODING: No, I mean beyond their 3-1 series deficit to Miami that now makes their odds of winning the Eastern Conference finals equal to the likelihood Kim Kardashian will suddenly eschew fame and spotlight and quietly become a nun:
1. Paul George's postgame lunacy: "I thought we outplayed them," he said late last night, as a large room full of media looked at each other and worked to stifle outbursts of braying, incredulous laughter. George said he found it "demoralizing" that Indiana was so superior in all phases and yet lost at the free-throw line because of "home cooking" by the officials. (Over/under on the league fine the NBA cooks up for George: $25,000). By the way, somebody point out to Paul that Miami scored 20 points off his team's turnovers, and invite him to blame the refs for that. Lame excuses, Indiana.
2. Lance Stephenson's mouth: (See my rrelated game column) Lance's maw was wide open and yakking before the game, talking about how LeBron James' trash talking had been a "sign of weakness" and that he was "under his skin." Then, during the game last night, Lance was as a church mouse. Somebody give that man a choke sign.
3. Roy Hibbert zeroes in. Hibbert can do the seemingly impossible. He can be a 7-2 giant on national television, and completely disappear. Last night: 0 points. Your cat scored as many. Pacers were minus-23 points with him on the court. And his defense against Chris Bosh was as nonexistent as his offense.
4. World's shortest bench. This doesn't really fit with the others, but, have you noticed? In terms of bench/depth/rotation, Indiana is pretty much bereft with the exception of Luis Scola and his 1970s hair.
5. Frank Vogel's schoolyard yell. Saved my favorite for last. This is a classic. Vogel, the Pacers' nerdy coach, screaming at Shane Battier as he attempts a three-point shot. Recalls my old Little League days, when, as the opposing outfielder raced toward a fly ball, we'd shout, "TREE STUMP!" C'mon, Frank. Seriously!? Be a grownup. Postscript: Battier made the shot.
G4: HEAT 102, INDIANA 90: MIAMI IN CHARGE AT 3-1: LeBron James' 31 points and 10 rebounds and schooling of Lance Stephenson was the big story overall, although Chris Bosh's fast start and 25 points set the early tone. Click on Thou Shall Not Irritate LeBron James for my full column off the game. Original post: Looking at tonight's Game 4 from two angles. I love the seven-game series format because every result dramatically alters the framework of how the series looks and feels. Take tonight back at the downtown bayside arena. A Miami win to make it a 3-1 series lead would put the defending-champion Heat in full control of these Eastern Conference finals and have even the most hopeful Pacers fans bracing for a third straight playoff elimination by their nemesis. But! A road upset by the Pacers tonight to even the series 2-2, with Game 5 in Indianapolis, would swing momentum suddenly back to the team that is both the No. 1 seed and yet the underdog. OK that's the big-picture angle. Now the other one. I also love a seven-game series format because it is long enough to become its own soap opera. Hard fouls on the court and dumb comments off it can turn up the intensity and volume. That happened in the runup to tonight's game when Pacers guard Lance Stephenson said Sunday that LeBron James trash-talked him in the last game and called that "a sign of weakness" by James. (The two are pictured, with Stephenson either defending James or trying to kiss him on the left cheek). There is a history here. Lance, of course, made a choke sign (from the bench) in the 2012 playoffs after James missed a key late free throw. Stephenson is 23, so I suppose he can still play the young-and-stupid card, but two points must be made here. 1) Publicly jabbing LeBron is never smart. He is due a monster game offensively; his 49-pointer in Brooklyn is his only plus-30 since the first round. And you know James would delight in showing up the mouthy Stephenson tonight. 2) Stephenson is a nice young player, a pretty good shooting guard, active defender, and also somebody who would not start for Miami. Three NBA seasons have not seen him within shouting distance of an all-star team or a leaderboard. Stephenson is a grain of sand. LeBron is the beach. It will be delicious to see if those roles come clear tonight.
Heat Postseason MVP Standings (updated): We name 'Heat 3 Stars' after every playoff game and award points on 3-2-1 basis. Tonight: 1. LeBron James, 2. Chris Bosh, 3. Dwyane Wade. The updated standings through 13 playoff games, including tonight's Heat-Pacers Game 4: LeBron James 31 points, Dwyane Wade 22, Chris Bosh 11, Ray Allen 8, Chris Andersen 2, Norris Cole 2, James Jones 2.
RILEY HAS YOUR BEDROOM COVERED: Urgent update: Heat prez Pat Riley's business arm, Riles & Co., has extended trademark rights to the phrase Three-Peat (and 3-Peat) to include bed covers, linens, blankets, sheets and towels. He has held the trademark since his late '80s Lakers days, but has now gone bed, bath and beyond. Further updates as needed.
THE LIST: FAST-FOOD CHAINS: The world's top 10 fast-food chains based on number of restaurants:
Rank Chain Restaurants
1 Subway 41,641
2 McDonald's 34,492
3 Starbucks 20,184
4 KFC 18,875
5 Pizza Hut 14,067
6 Burger King 13,667
7 Dunkin' Donuts 10,862
8 Domino's Pizza 10,566
9 Baskin-Robbins 7,294
10 Wendy's 6,557
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