The NBA rulebook makes it very clear that, when the clock is at 0.3 seconds or lower and the team with the ball has to make an inbounds pass, a player can only score via tip-in. In practice, that makes it relatively easy to defend — the team without the ball just has to protect the area right around the basket and make sure no one gets enough room to complete an alley-oop.
However, right before halftime of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, the host Indiana Pacers found a way to best the visiting Miami Heat in such a scenario. After Paul George missed what seemed like the last shot of the first half, Roy Hibbert won the battle for the rebound before it was knocked out of bounds off Miami. Unfortunately for the Pacers, they had just 0.1 seconds to score. George would have to throw a lob from the baseline.
With the Heat understandably focused on the 7-foot-2 Hibbert, Lance Stephenson managed to cut to the hoop, take the pass from George and tip the ball in just before the buzzer. Check it out below:
This basket cut the Pacers' halftime deficit to 41-37 after having faced an eight-point margin with just 69 seconds remaining in the half. In a game as important as this one, a single basket can sometimes make a huge difference, whether tangibly or simply by helping a team head into the locker room with a little more momentum.
Perhaps the Heat will spend a little more time working on defending such scenarios in their next practice. These kinds of plays don't happen often, but playoff games have been decided on such rarities before. Just ask the 2004 San Antonio Spurs.
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