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Notebook: Pacers Not Looking to Retaliate

by Mark Montieth | askmontieth@gmail.com

May 24, 2013, 4:09 PM

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MIAMI – Just when the controversy over coach Frank Vogel's decision to keep Roy Hibbert on the bench at the end of Game 1 had died down, Hibbert provided more material for the media to chew on.

Hibbert sent out a tweet late Thursday afternoon in response to a written report that the knee Miami forward Shane Battier had put in Hibbert's groin during the first quarter of Game 1 had been inadvertent.

Hibbert's response: “U can knee or kick me every time u drive 2the rim. Ill be there 2protect the rim. That wasn't inadvertent. Battier knew what he was doing.”

That made Hibbert the most popular Pacers player following Friday's shoot-around at American Airlines Arena. Hibbert defended his stance.

“I personally thought it wasn't a regular shooting motion for a layup,” Hibbert said. “Maybe it was him saying, 'You know what, I'll hit you first now and then maybe you won't be there to protect the paint later on.' I'm just saying, no matter what, I'm going to be there. “It's playoff basketball. That's fine. But we're tough guys and we'll keep playing. I wasn't saying to coach, 'Hey, you need to send something to the league.' I'm just saying no matter what, I'm going to be there.”

Hibbert's stance was supported by his teammates and coach Frank Vogel, but nobody went so far as to call the Heat a dirty team.

“I just think it's teams playing hard,” Vogel said. “I don't think there's anything dirty about this series. Just teams playing hard.

“It's going to be intense, it's going to be relentless, it's going to be physical.”

Miami guard Norris Cole also caught Pacers forward David West with an uppercut shot to the groin while turning the corner off a screen in the fourth quarter of Game 1. West doubled over in pain as TNT commentators Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller laughingly referred to West being hit in the “midsection.”

Still, the Pacers refused to be drawn into a controversy.

“Playoff basketball,” George Hill said. “You take hits and you give hits.

“We'll let the NBA and the refs handle that. We'll just play basketball.”

Hibbert said he would not look to retaliate.

“I've thought about it, but I have to be in the game to make an impact,” he said. “In my younger days I probably would have done something. We have a chance to win this series and we need every possible body out there.

“They want to play tough, if that's what they want to do, we're not backing down. We're going to be there. It's going to be a fun, tough series.”

Hill says he's OK

Hill sat with an ice bag on his left foot following Friday's shootaround, the result of the sprained left big toe he suffered in Game 1. Hill said his foot kicked the back of the shoe of a teammate who stopped in front of him while Hill was driving to the basket.

“I'm fine,” he said. “A little banged up, but that's part of the playoffs. You just fight through it.”

Hill also said the concussion that kept him out of Game 5 against New York was more like whiplash of his neck. The neck injury impacted the back of his brain, which caused the headaches that required him to go through the NBA's concussion protocol before returning for Game 6.

Hill's immediate concern is improving on his Game 1 performance, when he scored just five points on 2-of-9 shooting. He did contribute seven assists and five steals, however.

“I just need to be aggressive,” he said. “Me out there being passive, that's when I tend to turn it over and start second-guessing things. If I just start by being aggressive and not worry about make or miss, that's when I play well.”

Hill has not played well against the Heat this season, going scoreless in the first meeting and scoring 12 and 7 in the other two. He was playing with bronchitis in one game, and with an injury in another. He averaged 12.8 points against the Heat in last season's second-round playoff series.

“I played well against them last year,” Hill said. “Just being aggressive, that's what allows me to be myself.”

George Likes Island Life

Miami made its strategy against the Pacers' league-leading defense clear in Game 1, when it isolated LeBron James on the perimeter against Paul George.

The hope, obviously, was to get George in foul trouble, or at least wear him down, and take advantage of the league MVP's unmatched talent.

Asked what he thought of being put on an “island” against James, George said he relished the opportunity.

“I take a lot of pride,” he said. “I want to be one of the best players in this league. You have to want that moment and cherish guarding guys like LeBron and (Dwyane) Wade. I'll take that match-up all day for myself.”

George guarded Atlanta's Josh Smith in the first round and New York's Carmelo Anthony in the second. James, obviously, is the greatest challenge.

“All of them have a unique skill set,” George said. “Carmelo keeps you on your toes with how quick he is and how well he can shoot the ball. LeBron, it's how well he can attack and facilitate the ball, so you really got to stay on your toes. It's a different attack, but the more I'm matched up against him the more I'll understand his tendencies.”