LeBron James, Heat can expect more physical play from Bulls
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org April 13, 2013 8:13PM
LeBron James, Kirk Hinrich
Bulls at HEAT
The facts: Noon, Ch. 7,
Updated: May 15, 2013 7:08AM
MIAMI — Guard Kirk Hinrich already spent a couple of days in Heat star LeBron James’ head. It’s not a place he needs to visit again.
But if James is headed to the rim for an easy score, Hinrich has no qualms about wrapping him up, just like he did March 27, when the Bulls ended the Heat’s winning streak at 27 games.
“Anytime you play the game, there’s just physical play,’’ Hinrich said. “People think basketball is not a physical sport, but you watch, you know the game, and you know it’s a physical game. That’s just how it is.’’
That’s just how it was in the Bulls’ 101-97 victory that left James complaining about the Bulls’ physical play. He singled out Hinrich’s tackle and forward Taj Gibson’s horse collar.
“Those are not basketball plays,’’ James said, ‘‘and it’s been happening all year, and I’ve been able to keep my cool. I try to tell [coach Erik Spoelstra], ‘Let’s not worry about it too much.’ It is getting to me a little bit because every time I try to defend myself, I’ve got to face the consequences of a flagrant foul or a technical foul. It’s very tough, and I’m not sitting here crying about anything because I play the game at a high level. I play with a lot of aggression. I understand some of the plays are on the borderline of a basketball play or not. I don’t know. It’s frustrating.’’
And if Hinrich has gotten some satisfaction in knowing he got to James, well, he wasn’t about to admit it.
“We’re just trying to focus on ourselves and focus on what we have to do to give us a chance to win,’’ Hinrich said when asked if frustrating James could help the cause. “They got the best record in the league, I believe, so anytime you play the team that’s on top, it’s kind of a measuring stick of where you’re at. Just go out there and compete and do everything you can to try to pull out a win.’’
James might not be the only Heat player with an agenda Sunday. There’s that little matter of getting some payback against the Bulls, not only for ending the streak but also because the Bulls have a 7-3 regular-season record against Miami since Tom Thibodeau took over before the 2010-11 season.
“You don’t know if they’ll come out with a chip from us [ending the streak],’’ center Nazr Mohammed said. “They may take it as another game to rest some players. You’ve got the playoffs coming, so this is a different time of year for some teams. They could be trying to get guys healed up or they might come out and go after it like a playoff tuneup game. You just never know.’’
In Thibodeau’s case, he doesn’t care.
“I don’t know about sending messages and all that nonsense,’’ Thibodeau said. “I think you get ready to play, decide the game on the floor. They’re the defending champion, everyone is chasing them, so you got to come ready to go. They’re a great team, so we’re going to have to be at our best.’’
NOTE: Guard Richard Hamilton won’t face the Heat. The NBA suspended him one game without pay for elbowing the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan in the face Friday. Hamilton was whistled for a flagrant 2 and ejected.