Tuesday , Mar , 28 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Tempers flare in South Beach

(Sports Network) – Udonis Haslem and the Miami Heat are catching fire less
than a month before the regular season ends.

But Haslem is boiling in his own special way, and it’s not in jubilation over
his alma-mater Florida reaching the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament.

In Monday night’s Eastern Conference showdown between Miami and the Pacers,
Haslem and Jermaine O’Neal got into a shoving match just before halftime
and sent tempers flaring at American Airlines Arena.

With 5:25 left in the opening half, Haslem went up for a rebound and also came
down with O’Neal’s arm pinned under his elbow. O’Neal broke free after a few
moments and then shoved the Miami forward. Haslem and O’Neal immediately went
chest-to-chest before Haslem was ejected a few minutes later.

But the most interesting part of the brief feud was when mammoth Heat center
Shaquille O’Neal grabbed Indiana’s O’Neal by the throat. Shaq and O’Neal are
cool, according to the giant LSU grad, and the choke hold wasn’t as bad as it
appeared.

You could have fooled me because the Pacer star looked like he just dropped a
load in his baggy shorts when the seven-foot O’Neal grabbed his neck.

Six technical fouls, one flagrant foul and one ejection highlighted Miami
96-91 win over the Pacers.

Dwyane Wade added 22 points and eight rebounds versus Indiana, while Jason
Williams scored 18 for Miami, which posted its seventh win in nine tries and
beat the Pacers for just the second time in the last 16 meetings.

The fiery spirit is what head coach Pat Riley loves and is used to.

You think the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980’s or the New York Knicks of the
1990’s didn’t talk trash in games and get into other players’ faces?

Riley’s Heat are playoff-bound and currently own the second seed in the
Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Heat have won 16 of their last 17 games versus the Eastern Conference,
losing only to Detroit in that stretch. They host Detroit on April 6 in the
final meeting of the regular season.

Miami will open a three-game road trip on Wednesday at Toronto followed by
games in Cleveland and New Jersey.

MIA