“We understand that offense is going to come and go,” he added a moment later. “Our defense has got to be our staple. Our guys competed harder tonight than they probably have in the entire season.”
Speaking of that, the fine Vogel incurred before the series even began for calling the Heat the “biggest flopping team in the NBA” and suggesting the officials pay close attention to such stunts looks like money well spent. No team is less popular with rival fans than the Heat, and some of that attitude appears to have rubbed off on the Pacers.
With 9:53 left, Wade drove to the basket and expected a call when Indiana’s Dahntay Jones got in his way, wrestled the ball away and set up a score for teammate Leandro Barbosa on the other end. Barely half a minute later, after another Miami turnover sprang Darren Collison for what looked like an uncontested basket, Wade barreled into Collison from behind and earned a flagrant-1 foul. It wasn’t the only confrontation and it isn’t likely to be the last in the series, either.
“This was an ugly game,” Danny Granger said, “but we found a way to win.”
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at Twitter.com/JimLitke.