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Heat and Knicks gets physical in a hurry


This news story was published on April 29, 2012.
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By Joseph Goodman, McClatchy Newspapers –

MIAMI — Saturday was the first postseason game between the Heat and Knicks in 12 years, but it didn’t take long to rekindle the physical nature of its old postseason rivalry.

“The series is going to be physical,” Heat swingman Mike Miller said. “If you look at the past history of these two teams in the playoffs, it’s physical basketball.”

(PHOTO: The Miami Heat’s LeBron James (6) looks to pass against New York Knicks defender Carmelo Anthony during the third quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, Saturday, April 28, 2012. The Heat beat the Knicks, 100-67.)

Things got heated in a hurry in the first quarter when Udonis Haslem and Amare Stoudemire received technical fouls for jawing with each other. The hard fouls came quickly thereafter in the Heat’s 100-67 victory. The physical play culminated with a cheap shot by Tyson Chandler on LeBron James in the second quarter.

James was backpedaling in the open court when Chandler leveled him from behind with a moving screen that looked like an open-field tackle. Chandler was initially ejected from the game. James’ neck and head snapped back violently during the collision, and James fell to the floor writhing in pain. He then stood up and jogged around the court holding his neck.

Chandler was initially slapped with a flagrant-2, but after a review referee Dan Crawford reversed the decision and downgraded the foul to a flagrant-1.

It allowed Chandler to remain in the game.

The incident harkened to the physical playoff series between the Heat. From 1997 to 2000 the Heat and Knicks played against one another in every postseason, and the physical nature of the meetings are part of NBA history. Saturday proved it didn’t take much to spark another physical series.

A review of Chandler’s flagrant foul revealed that James’ might have embellished the play. Regardless, it was a nasty shot by Chandler and the climax of a physical first half by the Knicks. They committed 21 fouls.

The Knicks committed six offensive fouls in the first half alone. Chandler entered the second half with four fouls, while Baron Davis, J.R. Smith and Stoudemire each had three fouls.

J. Van Gundy remembers

He didn’t really want to talk about it, but when asked about hanging on for dear life to Alonzo Mourning’s leg during the 1998 playoffs, Jeff Van Gundy played the role of a good sport.

“I don’t ever think about it other than when someone brings it up,” Van Gundy said. “I look like a fool, but it wasn’t because I look back and laugh at it. It’s something you wish you hadn’t done, but I never think about it.”

Of course, that’s hard to believe considering it’s one of the one of the oddest pieces of NBA footage of all-time. Mourning and Larry Johnson of the Knicks began trading blows at the end of a playoff game when Van Gundy ran onto the court to try to break up the fight. Instead of getting in the middle of it, Van Gundy dove at Mouning’s feet and wrapped his arms about one of Mourning’s legs.

“You look like a fool, but that’s just how it is,” Van Gundy said. “It’s something that happened, but thankfully Mourning was gracious in the future years to let it go. Because I certainly lost my mind.”

Today, Van Gundy is a TV analyst for ESPN who provided color commentary for Saturday’s game. Everyone remembers the “leg incident,” but when Van Gundy looks back on all those classic playoff series he remembers them fondly as being “hard fought.”

“Every game was tough,” Van Gundy said. “By the time those four series ended there was a lot of mutual respect having gone through not only the playoffs but the regular seasons of those years as well. It was great, great competitions.”

ETC.

Wade recorded his 85th consecutive game in the postseason with double figures, extending his current record. . . . Haslem became the franchise’s all-time leader in defensive rebounds in the postseason. He has 393 career defensive rebounds in the playoffs.

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