MIAMI (AP)—Tempers flared during the game and more fighting words came afterward. At least the Miami Heat were able to leave happy.
The Heat overcame five technical fouls and the ejection of starting forward Udonis Haslem for scuffling with Jermaine O’Neal to beat Indiana 96-91 Monday night—only their second victory over the Pacers in the last 16 regular-season meetings.
“Sort of an ugly game,” Shaquille O’Neal said.
Haslem and Jermaine O’Neal got tangled with 5:25 left in the half, and the two exchanged heated words. Both were issued technical fouls, but Haslem also was charged with an offensive foul and was issued a second technical after arguing that call.
“Only three people thought the foul was on me,” Haslem said afterward, apparently taking a thinly veiled shot at the officiating crew. “I don’t understand it.”
Well, at least four people thought Haslem was guilty.
“He tried to bend my arm back,” Jermaine O’Neal said. “I don’t know when he became tough, but all of a sudden, he became tough. It’s in his best interest to concentrate on getting a rebound and be quiet.”
Indiana led 58-44 early in the third quarter, before Shaquille O’Neal and Williams led Miami’s rally. Each scored 11 points in the period, and when the Heat center hit a turnaround with 33 seconds left, Miami had clawed back into a tie at 71.
“In the first half, Tinsley and Anthony Johnson were sagging off of me, especially when Dwyane had the ball,” Williams said. “So I just wanted to come out and be aggressive.”
With 7 minutes left, the Heat took their first lead since the second quarter on a spectacular play by Wade. After Jermaine O’Neal blocked Wayne Simien’s shot, Wade scooped up the loose ball, drove on O’Neal, scored and got fouled; the three-point play put Miami up 80-79, and the Heat wouldn’t trail again.
“He made a couple of great plays at the end,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. “Great players are going to make great plays. In the grand scheme of the game, the third quarter was our undoing.”
Stojakovic and Jermaine O’Neal scored back-to-back hoops to tie the game at 83 with 4:49 left, but another three-point play from Wade and two clutch baskets from Simien helped the Heat build the lead back to 92-85 with 1:57 left.
“We just let a game slip we could have had,” Tinsley said.
Jackson hit five of his first six shots—including all three of his 3-point tries—in the first 7 1/2 minutes, helping the Pacers take a 29-28 lead after the opening quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, things got heated with the Haslem-O’Neal exchange. And Miami did not respond well, ending the half in an 0-for-11 drought. All five points the Heat managed in the final 5 minutes of the half were from the foul line, and Indiana built a 53-42 lead at the break.
“We came totally unglued after the altercation,” Heat coach Pat Riley said. “As a team, when the emotional level gets ratcheted up somewhat, you have to maintain what I call ‘it,’ a real high competitive level but keep it together. We didn’t (but) we gathered ourselves really well in the third quarter.”
The Heat made 12 of their first 18 shots in the opening 11:01, then missed their final try of the first quarter and 24 of 28 attempts in the second quarter. Haslem was the only Miami starter to make a field goal in the period; the Pacers held the other four Miami starters to an combined 0-for-14 showing.
No Miami player was disrupted more than Wade, who was 4-for-5 from the floor in the first 7:51—but needed 12 attempts to make his next basket, a reverse layup with 9:19 left that tied the game at 75.
“Every time we play them, it’s a rough game,” Wade said.
Haslem’s only other career ejection was last April against Chicago, for getting involved after the Bulls’ Andres Nocioni fouled Wade. … Jermaine O’Neal left the court after the first quarter with a strained left groin—the same muscle that he tore and missed 24 games because of before returning last week. He returned midway through the second quarter. … Miami’s magic number for clinching the Southeast Division title is now three. … Tinsley had a over-the-head, no-look, 60-foot underhanded try hit the front rim as the halftime buzzer sounded. It wouldn’t have counted.