INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Miami forward Chris Andersen grudgingly accepted his punishment from the NBA on Saturday morning.
He’s not about to let Saturday night’s suspension change him _ or the way he plays.
Less than 24 hours after league officials upgraded Thursday night’s flagrant one foul call to a flagrant two and suspended him for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, the guy better known in basketball circles as the “Birdman” told reporters he doesn’t regret what happened.
“It doesn’t matter at this point,” Andersen said when asked what led to the first-half skirmish in Game 5. “It was the heat of the moment. A guy pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I let it get to me. I can’t regret anything. It is what it is, bro. At the time it was a flagrant one, now it’s a flagrant two.”
Andersen was called for a foul after knocking Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough to the floor with a blind-side body check. When Hansbrough got up, Andersen shoved him in the chest. Following a replay review, both players were called for technical fouls and Andersen drew the flagrant one.
But when league officials took another look, they rescinded Hansbrough’s technical and upgraded Andersen’s flagrant foul to what would have been an ejection had it been called that way on the floor. The body check and shove even had David Stern saying “I don’t know what he was doing.”
Hansbrough is still befuddled, too.
“There’s nothing I do differently against this team, I just come out and play my style,” he said after the Pacers’ shootaround. “This one, I’m not sure what happened. It’s just playoff intensity, I guess.”
The loss of Andersen could have a major impact Saturday night.
Miami won Game 5 thanks in part to Andersen’s presence inside, which helped the Heat get Indiana’s dominant inside game under control. Miami leads 3-2 and can clinch a third straight trip to the NBA Finals with a win Saturday in Indy where they’re 1-3 this season.
Without Andersen, the Heat loses one of their more physical players. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters that backup forward Joel Anthony will get some of the minutes usually reserved for Andersen.
What else will the Heat be missing? A player who has made his last 17 shots and all 15 in this best-of-seven series.
“I’d say maybe finishing around the rim,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said when asked about the difference between Anthony and Andersen. “Obviously, anything less than 100 percent is less than Chris Andersen.”
Vogel said he also expects Miami to make other adjustments such as using Chris Bosh inside more and giving Udonis Haslem more minutes. Haslem has gone 8 of 9 from the field in each of Miami’s last two wins.
As for Andersen, Spoelstra said the two discussed the play and the punishment Friday after the ruling was handed down. When asked about details of the discussion, Spoelstra said he was keeping that private.
“We’ve moved on and anything now is about getting this done tonight,” he said.
Vogel has his own concern.
Team doctors have diagnosed starting forward David West with an upper respiratory infection. West missed Saturday morning’s film session and after watching the first portion of the shootaround, Vogel said he sent West home early to get some additional rest.
West has had a major role in the Pacers success all season and particularly in this series, in which he has averaged 18.2 points and 8.4 rebounds and if he’s not at 100 percent, it could be problematic as the Pacers attempt to send this series back to Miami for Game 7 on Monday night.
“Any time, you’ve got a guy who is not 100 percent, it’s a concern,” Vogel said. “But he’ll get rested this afternoon and he’ll be ready to go.”
The Heat won’t have that luxury with Andersen — until next week.
“I’ll deal with the repercussions of it and miss this game, but I know my guys are going to go out there and take care of it,” Andersen said.
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