The Heat smoked the Bulls 115-78 in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series on Wednesday, restoring a bit of order after a surprising Game 1 loss.
Game 2 was marked by skirmish after skirmish after skirmish. Although none of the trash talk or technical fouls wound up evolving into serious incidents or influencing the game's result, the total volume of referee intervention was unusual. A total of nine technical fouls, two ejections and one flagrant foul were dished out, with the whistles coming to a crescendo early in the fourth quarter, when referee Scott Foster ejected Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson back-to-back.
The sequence started when a Gibson jump hook was blocked by Chris Andersen, an apparent missed goaltending violation that led to an and-one transition opportunity for Ray Allen on the other end. Noah stepped off of the Bulls bench and onto the court to loudly express his disapproval to Foster. He was hit quickly with his second technical foul of the game, necessitating an automatic ejection.
"I just wanted to let the referee, I wanted to let him know, how I felt about the game,'' Noah said, according to the Associated Press. "I don't know how many techs we got. ... I would call that not keeping your cool, not being very Zen."
The American Airlines Arena crowd screamed its approval as Noah headed to the locker room and one female fan reached over a railing to flip the bird right in his face, a scene captured in a soon-to-be-iconic photograph that is blurred below.
Joakim Noah received a one-finger salute following his ejection. (Steve Mitchell/USA Today)
After Noah was ejected, Gibson continued the conversation, earning himself a pair of technical fouls. Gibson had to be restrained and helped to the locker room, and he appeared to direct profanity at Foster as he left the court, a display that could result in a fine from the NBA league office. All this occurred with the Heat leading 94-56 with a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Noah, who famously called the Heat "Hollywood as Hell" back in 2011, got tangled up with LeBron James earlier in the game, and both were hit with technicals.
In addition to the four total technicals accumulated by Noah and Gibson, Bulls guards Nate Robinson and Marquis Teague also received technicals in the first half while James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers all received technicals for Miami. Wade was the first player to get hit when he was teed up for throwing the basketball at Marc Belinelli less than one minutes into the game. Andersen was also hit with a flagrant foul for some extremely sloppy help defense on Belinelli.
Ultimately, all the squawking mattered little. Miami cruised to an easy victory, with James and Wade both getting plenty of unexpected rest in the final period. Allen scored a game-high 21 points for the Heat. James added 19 points and nine assists while Wade finished with 15 points and five assists. Belinelli led the Bulls with 13 points in a losing effort.
The series is now tied at one. Game 3 is set for Chicago on Friday.
Hat tip on the image: @HPBasketball