The Miami Heat fought back, won Game 3 and can take a stranglehold on the series with a victory Monday night in Game 4 against the Chicago Bulls.
After Game 2 in Miami netted nine technical fouls and two Chicago ejections, Game 3 on Friday was tamer, but not without incident.
Nazr Mohammed of Chicago ran down LeBron James on a fast-break and wrapped him up to stop a breakaway layup. James swatted him away and was whistled for a technical foul, but then Mohammed got up and shoved James to the floor.
Mohammed received a technical and an ejection.
"From my angle, I just saw a guy basically flop," said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, referring to the league's MVP. "I'm going to leave it at that. I don't think it warranted an ejection. I understand flagrant foul. Understand that. Ejection no."
There was an incident involving Chris Andersen and Nate Robinson, but it was Bulls center Joakim Noah who earned the "T." He came in and gave a two-handed push to Andersen, who appeared to retaliate. However, it was Noah who received the only technical foul.
"It's an emotional game," said Noah. "Just lost the battle; we did not lose the war. A lot of basketball left."
Noah's words are true, but Friday's game was there for the Bulls to take and take a 2-1 series lead. The game was tied 70-70 after three quarters, but Miami outscored Chicago, 34-24, in the final frame.
What made the game even more ripe for the taking was the somewhat subpar performance from James. Yes, he finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, but he only shot 6-for-17 from the field.
"I didn't shoot the ball like I've been shooting all year," James said. "My teammates look for me to make plays no matter if I'm shooting the ball well or not. There were a couple of times in the fourth quarter I settled for a couple of jumpers late in the clock."
James still finished with 12 of his 25 in the fourth quarter.
The real heroes for the Heat were Chris Bosh and Norris Cole. Bosh had 20 points and 19 rebounds and Cole came off the bench for 18 points in just over 24 minutes of action.
"If CB (Bosh) rebounds like that, we're a dangerous team," said James. "For him to have 19 rebounds and for Norris to come off the bench and defend like he did and contribute offensively with a big time drive in the fourth and a big time three as well, those two guys are the reason we won the game."
The Bulls once again went to battle without Derrick Rose, despite some unfounded Internet chatter that he would finally make his season debut in Game 3. Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich both sat as well. Their availability for Monday's contest is unknown, although expectations are that both will still be shelved.
Carlos Boozer led Chicago in scoring on Friday with 21 points. Robinson and Jimmy Butler, who once again played all 48 minutes, had 17 apiece, followed by 16 from Marco Belinelli. Noah fouled out, but registered a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.
With all of these injuries and heavy minutes, perhaps the Bulls are getting tired.
"I don't think fatigue is a factor," Boozer said.
The onus is now on Chicago to adjust and try to knot this series.
"When you play this team you have to have a lot of mental, physical, and emotional toughness," Thibodeau said of the defending champions. "Things are not going to go your way. We're not going to get calls. That's the reality. We've still got to find a way to get it done. And we will."
Game 5 is back in Miami on Wednesday night.(Sports Network) - The New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers are knotted at 1-1 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series, which shifts to Indianapolis Saturday night for Game 3.
The Pacers embarrassed the Knicks in Madison Square Garden in Game 1, but the home team prevailed in Game 2, thanks to a huge fourth-quarter effort. The Knicks outscored Indiana, 33-13, in the final frame on Tuesday to win, 105-79.
"The big key in the game was our play on the defensive end, stopping them and getting out in transition," said Carmelo Anthony. "We got some easy baskets, and just being patient out there were the most important things."
Anthony, who is battling a shoulder issue, led all scorers way back on Tuesday. He had 32 points on 13-for-26 shooting from the floor.
Iman Shumpert netted 15, followed by 14 from Raymond Felton and 10 apiece from Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin.
Absent from that list was J.R. Smith, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in the NBA. He struggled once again with only eight points thanks to an ice-cold 3-for-15 night from the floor.
Smith has struggled through the last four or five games. His head coach is close to reaching a boiling point with his bench star.
"I'll gauge J.R. as we go along and if I feel he's not giving me anything, I could always turn to other guys on that bench," Woodson told ESPN Radio. "I feel good about the guys who come in off the bench, just like I feel good about J.R. But if he's struggling and I feel the need that I got to pull him, I will do that as the head coach."
Woodson will get another weapon as the series moves to Indianapolis.
Amare Stoudemire, who has been sidelined since March with a knee injury, will return to the lineup. Woodson indicated Stoudemire won't see heavy minutes, but his presence will be felt.
"If I didn't think Amare was important to our team, then I wouldn't even consider that," Woodson said Friday. "But Amare can still play, and I think he proved that in the short time he was back this last time."
Stoudemire also missed the first 30 games this season with injuries to both knees.
The Pacers don't really care who comes back for the Knicks. They stole home- court advantage with a Game 1 victory and now get back to their building to try and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
"I'm sure this team is going to be amped to play on Saturday," said Pacers guard George Hill. "I'm sure our building is going to be live and we just have to take it one game at a time."
After a balanced attack in Game 1, the Pacers got very little going offensively in Game 2. On Tuesday, only three Indiana players -- Paul George, David West and Hill -- scored in double figures.
The Pacers shot 45.5 percent from the field on Tuesday, but the Knicks shot close to 50 percent. Indiana was near the top of the league in opponents' scoring and opponents' field-goal percentage during the regular season.
All that considered, Indiana's biggest problem in Game 2 was turnovers. The Pacers coughed it up 21 times, which led to 32 Knicks points, compared to only seven turnovers for New York.
"We had some real good practices. Our focal points were taking care of the ball, especially when they're tracking," said Paul George, the NBA's Most Improved Player this season, who had seven turnovers himself in Game 2. "That's going to be a big key and I think everything else will take care of itself."
The Pacers won both of this season's matchups in Indianapolis and have taken five of the last seven at home.
Game 4 is slated for Tuesday.