Last night’s 84-83 Pacers win over the Heat wasn’t pretty. ESPN, which weirdly ran a hashtag throughout the game that said #BeastsOfTheEast, hyped it as a slugfest and the two teams responded accordingly, beating the shit out of each other for four straight quarters.
The final frame was especially intense. The Pacers were called for two flagrant fouls on LeBron; both were later rescinded. Lance Stephenson and LeBron had to be separated after Stephenson began taunting the star; Lance was ejected. And then there were LeBron and Roy Hibbert, who became entangled after LeBron smashed his elbow into Roy Hibbert’s chin. The play sent Hibbert into daze, it gave LeBron a flagrant call, and it caused everyone to argue today whether the play was intentional.
(One thing that doesn’t seem up for debate: It was really surprising that Frank Vogel kept a queasy-looking Hibbert on the court.)
LeBron, who scored 38, told the media afterward that it would have been impossible to intentionally hit Hibbert.
“Of course I’m surprised [by the call], but it is what it is. They ref the game and we play it. Me and Blake Griffin, we take some hard hits. They call it how they want to call it.”
He said he doesn’t expect further sanction.
“If I can jump up in the air and elbow someone in the face and finish a play, I must be a kung-fu master,” he said.
Kung-fu! Anyway, if last night was a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals, a.) LeBron, who scored nearly 50% of his team’s points, is going to require some more help, and b.) We could be looking at a very fun, very intense seven-game series.
One last cool thing from the game: If you’ve ever wondered what it sounds like to dunk on LeBron, Paul George was mic’ed up last night (via Deadspin):
[Photo: Pat Lovell/USA Today Sports]