Reporting Tim Kephart
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INDIANAPOLIS (CBSMiami) – Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra will likely be a little bit lighter in the pocketbook after he criticized the NBA for not protecting his players in the wake of Udonis Haslem’s suspension for a flagrant foul in Game 5 Tuesday.
“The league does not have a problem with hard fouls on our two main guys,” Coach Spoelstra said. “In nine games now, there’s been over a dozen hard fouls to the face, some of the tomahawk variety, some have drawn blood. They don’t have a problem with so don’t have a problem with it. We’ll focus on what we can control.”
Haslem fouled Indiana Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough hard in Game 5 after Hansbrough had a flagrant foul against Miami’s Dwyane Wade. While Haslem’s flagrant foul was upped and he was suspended, Hansbrough will be allowed to play in pivotal Game 6 Thursday night.
“I mean, Hansbrough, it’s not the first time he’s gone after one of our players this year,” Heat forward LeBron James said. “We have two guys suspended and basically they have no one suspended.”
Pacers president Larry Bird seemed to indicate the Pacers would play even harder and more physical when he said after Game 5 the team was soft. Still, LeBron and Wade have said that attempts to get into their heads with hard or flagrant fouls aren’t working.
Still, as ESPN.com reported, the NBA has assigned a veteran crew of referees to Game 6 and all of them have reputations for being more than willing to throw a player out of a game in a heartbeat.
While Spoelstra’s words may cost him a bit, it could be part of his plan to try and finally get the officials on the Heat’s side. The Heat will need a lot of help because even though Haslem and Pittman are out, they can’t dress extra players to fill those spots; so two players will be inactive in Game 6 and two spots will be open.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Miami Herald contributed to this report.)