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Starting 5: Heat win a slug-fest & Larry Bird doesn’t like it one bit

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Every morning, we’ll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.

1:  Miami takes Game 5…

The Miami Heat turned a relatively close first half into a monster blowout in the second as they took control of their series with the Pacers last night.  The Pacers didn’t look like the tough squad that was going to give Miami a run for its money and maybe… just maybe… upset the Heat in the second round.  They looked over-matched and not ready for the brightest spotlight of the season.  

No Pacer scored more than 11 points.  Paul George, Danny Granger and David West combined to score 31, one more than LeBron James.  Against a Miami team lacking bigs, they were out-rebounded by 14 and no one aside from Roy Hibbert (12) grabbed more than 4.  

And Hibbert, the key to this series for the Pacers, was a non-factor.  After starting the series as the “X-factor,” Hibbert has taken a step back.  8 points on 3-10 shooting and 1 block?  Not gonna cut it.  I don’t need to dive into any more advanced a statistic than those to confirm that he lacked the aggression to be the guy that beats Miami.  And if Indiana is going to harbor those diminishing dreams of moving beyond this round, he’s going to have to step up.

2: … in a slug-fest that will get league attention

There were three flagrant fouls in this game.  Tyler Hansbrough started the festivities with a hard foul on Dwyane Wade that was ruled a flagrant 1.  That seemed right.  He went for the ball, overly-emphatic follow through, unnecessary contact… ok, I get it.  Then we really started rolling.

Udonis Haslem hit Hansbrough less than a minute later with a clear retaliation that, amazingly, was ruled a flagrant 1 when it obviously warranted more.  That was a two-handed chop to the face that had no intention of doing anything beyond sending a message to Psycho-T.  The ruling on the floor was big, because it allowed Haslem to stay in the game.  At that point, it was 32-25 in the second and the Pacers were still in the game.  A Haslem ejection on a flagrant-2 would have re-shaped the game and thrown Miami’s lineups into disarray.  The way Indy was playing, it might not have mattered, but it also might have. 

And finally, the dirtiest play we’ve seen this side of a swinging Artest elbow… Dexter Pittman takes out Lance Stephenson in a dirty and dangerous play that should warrant a strong response from the league. 

Here’s the video: 


         

Stop it right away… at the :01 mark.  Stephenson is at the left elbow.  Pittman is at the right block.  Dexter has plenty of time to decide what he’s going to do… and what he does is stick an elbow right into Stephenson’s throat.  It was blatant, it was calculated, and it just so happened to be the guy who made the “choke” sign at LeBron earlier in the series.  

How these officials called the Haslem and Pittman plays flagrant-1 fouls is beyond me.  Those were not only two blatant flagrant-2 fouls, they each warrant their own suspensions.  All eyes are now on the league to see how they deal with this.  Haslem and, to a much greater degree, Pittman, need to pay a price for their unwarranted actions. 

3:  HIGHLIGHTS!!!

Back to basketball… and LeBron’s sweet mid-air dime to Joel Anthony

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in the open court… two amazing passes

DWade with the circus and-1

4:  Line of the Night:  LeBron James: 30 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists

Another near triple-double for LeBron, who hit on 12 of his 19 shots and all four free throws.  He was a game-high +28 and, as you can see from the videos above, he threw some of the most ridiculous passes you’ll see out there.  The one-handed pass to Wade in the second video defies logic.  It demonstrates a chemistry, court-awareness and athleticism that is off the charts.  So few guys in the league could have made that play because it took all of his size, strength and ability to make it happen.  

5:  You can quote me on that

“I can’t believe my team went soft.  S-O-F-T. I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.”
     -Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird, after Game 5

They had bounty on em!!!
     -Tony Allen, via Twitter, after Pittman’s foul on Stephenson 

“I’ve seen worse in this league in nine years. Nobody wants to give an inch and everybody’s going hard.”
     -Udonis Haslem, on his flagrant foul

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