MIAMI (AP) – Larry Bird called the Indiana Pacers soft. His team agreed. LeBron James thought otherwise.
Bird told The Indianapolis Star early Wednesday that he “can’t believe my team went soft” after the Pacers were beaten 115-83 in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series Tuesday night against the Miami Heat.
Miami leads the series 3-2, with Game 6 on Thursday in Indianapolis.
Tuesday’s game in Miami was marred by three flagrant fouls – one committed by Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough against Dwyane Wade, another by Miami’s Udonis Haslem against Hansbrough moments after Wade was bloodied. The last was a particularly hard play by Heat reserve center Dexter Pittman against the Pacers’ Lance Stephenson in the final seconds.
“I agree with his assessment. We did play soft,” Indiana’s Danny Granger said Wednesday. “We got smacked around. We got beat up, we got bullied, and we really didn’t respond well.
“I’ve been with Larry since I’ve been in Indiana for seven years,” Granger added. “He’s not been one to hold his tongue, and 99 percent of the time what he’s saying is right. I think he just called out what everyone else saw. We played a soft game. We didn’t play with the playoff intensity that we needed to win.”