LeBron: Refs will establish control
MIAMI -- LeBron James expects referees to establish even more control of the Miami Heat's physical playoff series with the Chicago Bulls in the aftermath of their blowout victory in Game 2, which included two ejections.
Chicago center Joakim Noah and forward Taj Gibson were tossed with 10 minutes left in a game in which the Heat and Bulls combined for 60 free throws, 51 fouls, nine technical fouls and a flagrant-foul 1.
SVP & Russillo
Ryen Russillo discusses Wednesday night's playoff actionand says fans were fooled by Chicago's performance in Game 1, while both teams showed their true colors in Game 2. Russillo also talks about the Warriors' win over San Antonio and says Golden State's backcourt could carry the Warriors to a series win.
The Heat evened the series with a 115-78 victory that was both the most lopsided playoff win in franchise history and the largest postseason loss by the Bulls.
"I understand the refs are going to try to control the game as much as possible, so you have to adjust to it," James said Thursday, as the Heat wrapped up preparations in Miami before flying to Chicago for Game 3 on Friday. "We know definitely this game is going to be physical and we look forward to it. It's a rivalry with this (Bulls) team. They don't like us. We don't like them. That's how it is."
Players and coaches from both teams said they don't want to see matters get out of hand the way they did at times Wednesday. After Chicago's upset in the series opener, Game 2 opened with Nate Robinson getting knocked into a row of court-side cameramen by a hard foul from Heat forward Udonis Haslem.
Bulls guard Marco Belinelli appeared to retaliate on the Heat's first possession, grabbing Dwyane Wade around the shoulders to prevent a breakaway layup attempt. Wade then tossed the ball toward Belinelli and was assessed with the first of a slew of technical fouls that were to come.
James said Thursday the Heat are prepared to play another physical game Friday and expects the Bulls to respond with their typical brand of energy and relentless defense when the series shifts to the United Center.
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"We have to carry that same aggression, that same attitude to Game 3 and Game 4 (Monday) that we took into Game 2," said James, who scored all 19 of his points in the first half Wednesday and also had nine assists. "They're back in their own building, and we have to be ready for it."
James also said he was surprised at the number of technical fouls that were assessed Wednesday and didn't believe the level of play warranted the number of whistles from the officials. The nine technical fouls in Game 2 were the most in a game since the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers met during the 1995 playoffs.
Both Noah and Gibson were assessed two technical fouls, with Robinson and Marquis Teague picking up the others for the Bulls. Three of the four called on Noah and Gibson were for arguing with referee Scott Foster with 10:13 left in the game as the Bulls trailed by 37 points. Robinson, Teague, James and Mario Chalmers were all whistled for taunting after plays ended.
The game's only flagrant foul was called on Chris Andersen for shoving Belinelli in the back near the Bulls' bench early in the second quarter.
James said he remembers watching film of games from the 1980s, when players needed to do far more than what the Heat and Bulls did Wednesday to warrant such tight calls.
"(The equivalent of) what happened last night would have been a couple of guys getting punched in the face in the '80s," James said. "That's the equivalent now. I don't really get into it too much. I hold my ground."
James said he's aware of the perception that Miami can be knocked off its pace-and-space game by opponents who make the game physical.
"Everyone is going to try to find a way to say you can beat any team," James said. "This is how you beat the Spurs, this is how you beat OKC. This is how you beat Memphis. This is how you beat the Heat, Knicks and so on. But we don't worry about that. You just have to adjust to it."