Just 12 days after being on the business end of a game-ending tip-in courtesy of Andrew Bogut(notes) and the Milwaukee Bucks, the Indiana Pacers found themselves on the pleasure end (that came out wrong) against the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night.
With Indiana trailing 93-92 thanks to a clutch David West(notes) jumper, the Pacers' Mike Dunleavy was set to trigger the inbounds pass with 3.9 seconds left in the game, guarded by Hornets point guard Chris Paul(notes). Everyone in the universe knew he'd be looking to get the ball to star swingman Danny Granger(notes), who led all scorers with 27 points (though he'd gone just 1-for-4 in the fourth quarter to that point).
Dunleavy did find Granger curling off a pair of screens, and we'll let Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star take us the rest of the way:
Danny Granger's jump shot looked like a game-winner. It floated softly toward the rim and was halfway down ahead of the buzzer.
Then, shockingly, it spun out.
It didn't shock Mike Dunleavy. Uncovered as Granger launched his shot, Dunleavy attacked the rim and jumped. On his way down, he got two fingers on the ball with his left hand and tapped it in as the buzzer sounded.
And he was free to do so, in large part, because Chris Paul "is, sometimes, a guy that will help," as noted by prescient color commentator Quinn Buckner on the Fox Sports Indiana broadcast of the game.
International readers ("Int'l read'rs"): If the clip above isn't rocking for you, please feel free to peruse the tip drill courtesy of our friends at the National Basketball Association.
Credit Dunleavy for keeping his head in the game at the tail end of a difficult night (8 points on 3-for-11 shooting, including 0-for-4 from 3-point range, to go with 3 rebounds and 4 assists in 27:30 of run), recognizing Paul was sagging off to help on the curl and making a beeline for the backboard. And credit Pacers coach Jim O'Brien a bit, too, for a design that had Jeff Foster(notes) setting the second screen, drawing Emeka Okafor(notes) (15 rebounds) away from the rim, thus clearing out some space for an offensive rebound and putback. There are legitimate things the Pacers did well to make the play work.
The fact remains, though, that if anybody in teal (I think it's teal, at least — my fiancee tells me I'm colorblind, but that's just because I'm pretty sure this one shirt's gray) put up any resistance on Dunleavy's run to the rim, New Orleans probably walks away with a win here. Given how the Hornets have struggled of late — the 94-93 defeat was the team's seventh in its last 10 games, dropping them to just 5-11 since their torrid 11-1 start to the season — you've got to imagine coach Monty Williams and his crew would like to have this one back.