Until the final horn of Game 5 sounded, Indiana forward Danny Granger had a nice showing in this playoff series against the Bulls.
During six NBA seasons, Granger proved he can score, but he hadn’t shown much evidence of doing much more than that, specifically the sort of teamwork, shot selection and defense to help his team win games.
Against the Bulls, Granger was the Pacers’ top scorer in all five games, averaging 21.6 points and shooting a solid 47.8 percent from the field.
When the series was over, though, Granger suddenly lost track of everything that happened between the Bulls and Pacers. This was a rough series from the opening jump.
Playing physical fits Indiana’s skill set and was something it had to do to stay competitive. If the Pacers’ game plan wasn’t to take Derrick Rose’s head off, they certainly tried to dislodge it slightly. Rose shot 60 free throws in five games.
So Granger naturally forgot about all that and attacked Joakim Noah after the game.
“Joakim Noah, he’s a dirty player,” Granger said. “I don’t think there’s a place in the game for it. You can make hard fouls and everything, but when you start elbowing people in the face, that’s when fights start breaking out.”
Granger was annoyed by an episode late in the third quarter that resulted in teammate Josh McRoberts getting ejected.
Unless something happened long before the cameras arrived, McRoberts was the instigator of that confrontation. As a shot bounced off the rim, McRoberts ran at Noah like he was hitting a blocking sled.
During the collision, Noah put his arms out and caught McRoberts in the head. So the Pacers enforcer made a second run at Noah and was given a flagrant 2 foul and sent to the locker room.
Of course, McRoberts was the guy who threw his elbow at Rose after the massive second-quarter dunk in Game 4. By all appearances, the elbow stopped a few inches short of Rose's chin.
In the fourth quarter on Tuesday, Noah got tangled up with Tyler Hansbrough and Indiana guard A.J. Price got a technical foul for complaining about it. Noah may have caught Hasnbrough with an elbow, but Hansbrough was hit harder twice by Kurt Thomas earlier in the series.
As mentioned above, this series was rough. The Pacers summoned their inner bad boy and gave the Bulls all they could handle for four games. Through it all, the Bulls and especially Rose did little complaining.
As long as Granger’s team is dishing out the punishment, it’s all good. When Indiana took a few shots on Tuesday, suddenly there’s no place in basketball for that sort of heinous behavior.
Granger, who spent two years playing in college at Bradley, just took his finest moment as an NBA player and ruined it.