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Pacers Fined, but "Fine" with Dirty Play

by Mark Montieth | askmontieth@gmail.com

May 30, 2013, 2:30 PM

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MIAMI – As the curtains opened for access to the Pacers' shootaround early Thursday afternoon, all microphones and cameras headed straight for David West, who was seated at the end of the court.

The team's power forward had been fined $5,000 for flopping and had a foul upgraded to a Flagrant 1 penalty earlier in the day by the NBA front office for plays in the Pacers' victory over Miami in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Typical of his playing style, West didn't flinch. In fact, he had strong words for Heat forward Shane Battier as well, as did teammate Roy Hibbert.

West and LeBron James each were fined for the same play in the fourth quarter, when West tried to post up and James tried to defend him. Both players fell backward when they made contact. No foul was called on the play.

“I was trying to post up,” West said. “He just tried to draw a foul and the refs let the play go on.

“It's not going to change the way I play at all. I don't flop. I'm just going to play as hard as I usually play.”

West also disagreed with the upgrade of his fourth-quarter foul on Dwyane Wade.

“I thought it was just a good foul. I just tried to make a play in the open court,” he said.

Pacers guard Lance Stephenson also was fined $5,000 for exaggerating contact with Ray Allen in the fourth quarter. Stephenson had tapped Allen in the chest. Allen responded with an elbow and Stephenson fell backward. He said Thursday he was just trying to avoid the elbow.

West, meanwhile, accused Heat backup forward Shane Battier of dirty play, a point brought up by Hibbert after Game 1 of the series. Battier, who played at Duke, is one of the NBA's most well-spoken players, but has a reputation for dirty play. A Sports Illustrated poll of the league's players last year ranked him as the 13th dirtiest player.

“He's got this funny way of moving into your knees,” West said Battier. “We're very conscious of that. It's an irritant. It's something you're always conscious of. I'm doubly conscious of it having an ACL (injury) a year-and-a-half ago.

“It's something we talk about, being prepared for anything and everything.”

Hibbert had accused Battier of intentionally kneeing him in the groin on Battier's layup attempt in Game 1. Hibbert backed up the claim on Thursday after being told of West's comments.

“I know what he brings to the game,” Hibbert said of Battier. “It's worked for him in the past. He has to do what he has to do to make sure his team wins. And that's fine.”

Hibbert said he knows how to protect himself in games. How?

“Watch my knees, watch my groin,” he said. “It's not just Battier. Every player in the league at this point will do whatever it takes to win. That's fine.

“To tell you the truth, I don't care. If he has to hit below the belt like that, that's fine. I'm just going to keep playing hard and aggressive. Obviously I don't like it, but it's part of the game. I don't want to look back and say I gave in to a dirty player. I don't personally do it, but I'm a different player.”

Coach Frank Vogel refused to be drawn into the discussion when approached by reporters following the shootaround.

“I have no thoughts on officiating or flopping,” he said. “I have nothing to share. Sorry.”

While flopping and flagrant fouls have been a theme between the Pacers and Heat dating back to their playoff series last year, the players have downplayed the issues. Earlier in the week, following Miami's practice between Games 1 and 2, LeBron James defended flopping, saying “any way you can get an advantage over the opponent to help your team win, so be it.”

West took a similar stance on Thursday.

“At this moment you have to do whatever you have to do within the guidelines of the game to try to win,” he said. “Whether it's trying to draw fouls or bait guys or whatever, it's just a part of the game.”