Miami HEAT Take Physical Play too Far?
This was supposed to have been the night when the Heat deflected all the hatred for them onto somebody else. They played with a fury Tuesday night, unleashed their disdain for the Indiana Pacers in so many breathtaking ways — basketball ways — that they were finally becoming the open-floor force they were destined to be.
But Miami’s full-throttle 115-83 evisceration of the Pacers in Game 5, giving them a 3-2 lead in the conference semifinals, was marred by three flagrant fouls. Well, two flagrant fouls and one felonious assault, the latter of which was perpetrated by a benchwarmer-turned-goon named Dexter Pittman.
With 19.4 seconds left in a 35-point blowout, Pittman spotted Lance Stephenson — he who delivered the infamous choke sign to LeBron (James) in Game 3 — diving down the lane to get in position for a possible tip-dunk on the offensive glass. Pittman made a beeline for him, and took him out with a vicious elbow to the throat. Both players went down hard.
Like two earlier fouls in the game — one on Tyler Hansbrough and another on Udonis Haslem — it was ruled a flagrant foul, penalty-one, which does not come with an automatic ejection. But the league office will rectify that matter Wednesday, and in my estimation will not only upgrade it to a flagrant-two, but also assess a multi-game suspension. My initial guess: At least three games, maybe more.