Physical play mars Game 5
There were three flagrant fouls in the Heat's 115-83 Game 5 victory that gave them a 3-2 series lead plus several players claiming cheap shots. The league office will be busy Wednesday reviewing the actions that could result in suspensions before Thursday's Game 6 in Indiana.
In a span of 57 seconds in the second quarter there were two flagrant fouls after players were hit in the head on drives to the basket. The Pacers' Tyler Hansbrough was the first, he swung his arm downward and hit Dwyane Wade across the face, opening a gash on Wade's forehead.
"I took a shot that I thought was uncalled for at that time," Wade said. "Obviously my face is not the ball."
Less than a minute later Udonis Haslem appeared to retaliate against Hansbrough when he smashed both arms across Hansbrough's head area. Replays showed Haslem did not seem to make a play on the ball, which he denied.
"I made a play on the ball," Haslem said. "Check my rap sheet. Nine years in the game and I ain't never played to hurt nobody."
"He came at me, it was pretty clear," Hansbrough said. "We will take it from there ... I really haven't looked at it. Some people told me that it looked pretty bad."
I made a play on the ball. Check my rap sheet. Nine years in the game and I ain't never played to hurt nobody.” -- Miami's Udonis Haslem defending his flagrant-1 foul call
Officials assessed a flagrant foul-penalty one on both plays and did not review them by league rule. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Pacers coach Frank Vogel said they expected to review the plays Wednesday to see if any further action might be taken by the league. It is possible the league could upgrade both fouls to flagrant-2s and consider further action.
However, the most questionable play didn't happen until the final minute. With the game out of hand and the benches emptied, Heat center Dexter Pittman violently elbowed Pacers' guard Lance Stephenson in the neck and shoulder area as Stephenson went for a rebounds. Pittman did not attempt to make a play on the ball.
Pittman was shown during the telecast winking after the foul.
Stephenson has gotten the Heat's attention in the series for trash talk from the bench and for his actions during Game 3, when he made a choking gesture toward LeBron James after a missed free throw. Before Game 4 last Sunday, Heat veteran Juwan Howard had a confrontation with Stephenson during warmups.
The officials also ruled Pittman had committed a flagrant-1.
Stephenson had an X-ray after the game on his collarbone and it was negative for a fracture.
In between, Pacers forward David West was involved in two other physical plays. Late in the third quarter Heat forward Shane Battier went to box West out for a rebound and West went sprawling to the floor. Battier's hip hit West's thigh on the play and West said he felt Battier was going for his knee. There was no foul called on the play.
"A guy just dove into my knee; part of the game I guess," West said. "But I can take care of handling myself, I don't need the referees to do that. That'll be dealt with."
Moments later West, who suffered a sprained knee on the play, then issued a hard foul to James on a drive to the hoop. James made the basket with the foul, which was not deemed flagrant. West then sat out the fourth quarter.
Following the game, Pacers president Larry Bird said he felt his team wilted when faced with Tuesday's physical play.
"I can't believe my team went soft. S-O-F-T," Bird told the Indianapolis Star. "I'm disappointed. I never thought it would happen."
When asked to elaborate more, Bird told the newspaper, "That's all I have to say."
All of this was prefaced by both Wade and James calling out Pacers forward Danny Granger before the game for creating confrontations over the previous three games. James called the actions "stupid" and Wade questioned his motives.
"We can be physical and do all that but certain things got to stop," Wade said before the game. "Are you out here to play basketball or are you out here to be a tough guy?"
Granger sprained his ankle in the second quarter when he landed on James after a shot. But that play seemed to be an accident. Granger only played a few minutes in the second half and is considered questionable for Game 6.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.