MIAMI — For those who watched on television, parental discretion should have been advised.
The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls have met in chippy affairs before. But this one took it to an extreme.
There were nine technicals, two ejections and a flagrant foul. When the hard hits and salty language finally ceased, the Heat had a resounding 115-78 win Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena, tying the Eastern Conference semifinal at 1-1.
“The FCC would not be happy with you guys if I divulged that,’’ Heat forward Shane Battier said to media members about what type of language was heard on the court. “So we will keep that amongst us.’’
Heat center Chris Bosh had said after Chicago’s stunning 93-86 victory in Game 1 that things had been “too pretty around” the Heat. Having won 41 of their previous 43 games, he said “everybody is going to kiss your’’ butt.
Well, there was nothing pretty about Wednesday’s game. Matters got feisty early when Miami forward Udonis Haslem banged hard into Bulls guard Nate Robinson on the game’s first possession. Then Bulls guard Marco Belinelli smashed into Heat guard Dwyane Wade on a drive and Wade threw the ball at Belinelli.
That was the game’s first technical. There would be many more.
The Bulls finished with six technicals and the Heat had three. Both ejections were on the Chicago side, with center Joakim Noah and forward Taj Gibson each getting the heave-ho with 10:13 left in the game.
“We like it to be physical, and we can play physical,’’ Bosh said. “So me, personally, I like getting hit …. It’s back to where we needed to be (and no longer “pretty’’ on the Heat). Dropping that game, it was a punch in the gut, but this team always responds.’’
The Heat, though, know their work is just getting started. Even if they blew the horns off the Bulls on Wednesday, it was just one game. The Bulls still have home-court advantage after stealing it in Game 1.
“They did what they wanted to do,’’ said forward LeBron James, even if his Heat had their biggest postseason margin of victory ever and the Bulls had their worst playoff defeat ever. “I feel like they came in and they stole home court from us. Now, we have to go to Chicago (for Friday’s Game 3) and take it back.’’
James did what he wanted Wednesday. After having scored a meager two points in the first half of Game 1 on 1-of-6 shooting, he came out aggressive. James scored all 19 of his points in the first half.
With the Heat comfortably up 55-41 at halftime, James turned into a distributor in the third quarter. He had five assists in the quarter as the Heat outscored the Bulls 30-15 to extend the lead to 85-56.
James wasn’t needed in a fourth quarter in which Miami led by as many as 46 points. As their deficit continued to grow, Noah and Gibson got tired of watching early in the quarter.
Noah, who already had gotten one technical, mouthed off when he was on the bench. He got his second and was sent to the locker room.
“I just wanted to let the referee … know how I felt about the game,’’ Noah said. “I definitely deserved to get kicked out.’’
Then it was Gibson’s turn. He argued a call and got two quick technicals.
“It’s frustrating,’’ Gibson said. “I lost my cool. … I was just trying to talk to (referee Scott Foster) and get his insight on the play, and it kind of went the other way. I should’ve conducted myself in a better way.’’
Gibson, who had to be held back by a member of Chicago’s staff from possibly going after Foster, looked to be using plenty of language Battier said the FCC does not like. However, a source familiar with the NBA’s thinking does not believe Gibson or any player will incur a suspension, although Gibson could be fined.
It would be nearly as easy to write who didn’t get technicals Wednesday as who did. Others whistled were Robinson and Marcus Teague for Chicago and James and guard Mario Chalmers for the Heat. The flagrant foul was courtesy of Heat center Chris Andersen.
James and Wade lauded the Heat for mostly keeping their cool. The same couldn’t be said by Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau.
“We got sidetracked, and you can’t do that,’’ Thibodeau said. “You have to have poise under pressure. You come in here, you’re not going to get calls. … You have to stay focused on the task at hand.’’
For most other foes, it would be easy to say Wednesday’s resounding win will lead to a Heat romp in the series. But these Bulls are no ordinary outfit.
Chicago stunned the Heat in Game 1 despite not having guard Derrick Rose (knee), who has been out all season, guard Kirk Hinrich (calf) and forward Luol Deng (illness). Those players were all out again Wednesday, although Hinrich and Deng are candidates to return Friday.
Regardless, the Bulls still have beaten the Heat three times this season. So it was no surprise coach Erik Spoelstra led off his post-game remarks by letting it be known the Heat can’t get overly excited about Wednesday’s win,.
“We are still in the hole,’’ Spoelstra said. “(The Bulls) got what they needed. They got one (in Miami). It doesn’t matter about the score (in Game 2). We need to move on now and get ready to go into the lion’s den on Friday (at the United Center).’’
In the meantime, there were plenty of positives for the Heat in Game 2. After shooting just 7 of 24 on 3-pointers in Game 1, they were 9 of 18. Guard Norris Cole shot 4 of 4 en route to 18 points. Top marksman Ray Allen might have been just 1 of 2 from beyond the arc, but he had a game-high 21 points in just 19 minutes thanks to a 10-of-10 showing from the foul line.
The Heat held Robinson, who burned them for 27 points in Game 1, to just 11. And they outrebounded Chicago 41-28.
That marked the first time in six games this season the Heat have beaten the Bulls on the boards. It showed the grit displayed by Miami players who admitted to getting a bit soft due to all their recent winning.
“Losing Game 1 at home was tough, and we had to go back and look at ourselves in the mirror and look at each other in the eyes and say, ‘Listen, what reason are we here for?’ ’’ Wade said. “We had to just come out and play with better effort, and I thought we did that. These games are going to be tough. The Chicago Bulls are not going to make it easy for you at all.’’
After all, Spoelstra calls where the Heat will play Friday a “lion’s den.’’ FCC officials might be on alert.