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Thursday update: Pacers upset with Battier; LeBron fined; Fins practice notes

The Wednesday night post - with Dolphins and Heat news is below. Here's an update from Thursday morning's Heat and Pacers practices:

A couple weeks after LeBron James said “I don’t need to flop,” the NBA on Thursday fined him $5000 for doing exactly that.

It was the Heat's first fine for flopping since the league, before the season, instituted a fine system to try to eliminate, or curtail, players from making exaggerated reactions to draw foul calls.

James and Indiana’s David West and Lance Stephenson were each fined $5000 for flopping incidents during Game 4.

James and West were fined for the same play, which happened on an Indiana possession in the fourth quarter. Both were briefly jostling for position, when James fell to the court and West made an exaggerated motion, as if he had been aggressively shoved.

James did not speak to reporters at Thursday morning’s shoot-around.
“I know I didn’t flop,” West said Thursday after learned he had been fined. “I don’t play the game that way. I was trying to post up and I knew he was trying to draw a foul. The refs let the play go on.”

West suggested James falling was “maybe some gamesmanship.” 

On his "flop," Stephenson reacted as if Ray Allen had elbowed him after Stephenson pushed Allen running down court.

“I thought he was trying to hit me,” Stephenson said after being fined. “It looked like I was flopping [but there was] no acting.”

Pacers coach Frank Vogel was fined $15,000 for accusing the Heat of flopping before last year's playoff series and wouldn’t discuss the issue Thursday.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau accused the Heat of flopping during their second-round playoff series, after James fell to the floor when he was pushed by Nazr Mohammed.

After Thibodeau's comments, James said: "I don't need to flop. I play an aggressive game. I don't flop. I've never been one of those guys."

Earlier this week, when asked about the league's new flopping policy, James said: "It's year one, so you are not just going to go cold turkey. Guys have been accustomed to doing it for years, and it's not even a bad thing… Any way you can get the advantage over an opponent to help your team win, then so be it."

Coach Erik Spoelstra said of James’ flopping fine: “We accept it. We don’t want the attention to be on the officiating.”

### The NBA upgraded a Game 4 foul on West – committed against Dwyane Wade -- from a common foul to a Flagrant 1 foul. 
 
###  West and Pacers center Roy Hibbert said Thursday morning that they must watch their knees when Shane Battier is defending them. Hibbert said he has to “watch” his groin as well.
      

### “Obviously I don’t like it,” Hibbert said of Battier’s approach. “I don’t want to look back and say I gave into a dirty player…. It has worked for him in the past. He has to do whatever he has to do to make sure his team wins…. If he has to hit below the belt, do whatever he has to do to win, that’s fine…. It’s not just Battier. Everybody in the league will do whatever it takes to win.”
     

Asked what he learned defending Battier during last year’s playoffs, West said: “Always have my guard up, protect my knees, and try to concentrate on the game. He’s got this funny way of moving into your knees. We’re very conscious of that.

“It’s an irritant. I’m doubly conscious, having an ACL a year and a half ago. It’s something we talk about, being prepared for anything and everything that he’s going to try. The way he plays, he’s trying to make an impact any way he can.”

Battier hasn’t been the primary defender on Hibbert but has had extended stints guarding West, who at 6-9 and 250 pounds is one inch taller and 32 pounds heavier than Battier.
     

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Notes and quotes from the Dolphins’ OTA session today, and a six-pack of Heat notes, plus a note on a former UM assistant:

### Ryan Tannehill made a few mistakes in the second of six offseason practices open to the media, but he did make several sharp throws in red zone drills. He threw a pick to Koa Misi that would have been returned for a touchdown if the play hadn't been blown dead and also threw a ball that linebacker Philip Wheeler should have intercepted.

Tannehill had an explanation: “The defense threw a lot of stuff (at us) that we hadn’t even talked about in the offensive meeting room. We weren’t prepared for it. They are installing stuff day-by-day, so we don’t know what they are going to put in.”

Tannehill stepped off the elevator after practice and told Joe Philbin: “Well, it wasn’t one of our better days.” Philbin’s response? “That’s why you’re going into the film room to learn and correct.”

### With Mike Wallace out to attend to a personal matter, Armon Binns joined Brian Hartline with the first team at receiver, with Brandon Gibson continuing to operate in the slot. Binns had two TDs in red zone work but also dropped an easy catch.

The receiver standout Wendesday? Undoubtedly Rishard Matthews, who caught three TD passes from Tannehill – two in red zone drills and another in the corner of the end zone over Richard Marshall. 

### We’re eager to see more of receiver Courtney Gardner, a tall target (6-3) with 4.5 speed. He signed with San Diego after the draft and then was cut for undisclosed off-field reasons. “An intriguing prospect,” Philbin said.

The Dolphins summoned Gardner to Davie as one of their 30 allowed pre-draft visits. Oklahoma coveted him, but he couldn’t qualify academically and was a junior college All-American last season.

### Dustin Keller continues to find openings in the seams, but the backup tight end job remains wide open and should remain so well into August.

Michael Egnew and Charles Clay both dropped catchable balls, but Egnew also made a nifty catch in traffic and Clay caught a TD pass from Tannehill, beating Reshad Jones. And Kyle Miller hauled in an impressive one-handed catch. Rookie Dion Sims continues to work with the “J.V. team” that runs drills at the same time as the “varsity” team.

Philbin’s take on his tight ends: “It’s a good group. Dustin (Keller) has come in here, and he's a real pro. I think that’s one of things that has impressed the entire coaching staff and his teammates as well.

Charles Clay, it’s great to see him out there moving around. Mike Egnew has clearly made progress from where he was a year ago, and Dion Sims is a guy who has prototypical size for the position and is learning the position well. He appears to be a quick learner. Kyle Miller made some plays out there today.”

### Lamar Miller continued to get snaps with the first team, but Daniel Thomas had some good moments.

### Tough day for rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis, who got all the work in team drills. He made two long field goals but missed five of nearly a dozen attempts – including three misses from 43 yards.

The reality is that Sturgis, a fifth-round pick – probably would need to be poor in preseason --- and Dan Carpenter would need to be very good – for the older and more expensive Carpenter to keep his job.

### Most impressive player on defense Wednesday? Had to be second-year safety Kelcie McCray, who missed all of last season with a fractured foot. He intercepted Matt Moore and broke up a potential TD pass to Binns.

“Certainly there is still some rust there that has to come off, but we think he has a future,” Philbin said.

### Olivier Vernon had a would-be sack of Tannehill… Marcus Thigpen had a couple drops… Tannehill said Chad Pennington, who is assisting with quaterbacks for a few days, “is very helpful in just giving us little tips that he has. Whether it’s just reading the defense or how we handle a certain situation or how we handle our footwork on certain plays.”

HEAT SIX-PACK

### The Heat, at times, has downplayed concerns about its rebounding, noting – as Shane Battier previously asserted – that “winning the turnover battle is the more important” indicator of the Heat’s success.

But after watching his team again get pounded on the boards in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, coach Erik Spoelstra made this very clear Wednesday:

“We’ve never said we can get pummeled on the glass. That is not a winning formula for us. We have to do better. We have to be more committed without any excuses and just get it done. That will be our focus in Game 5.”

After outrebounding Miami by a 49-30 margin on Monday (a game in which the Heat committed just six turnovers), the Pacers hold a plus-40 advantage on the boards in this series. Including the team’s three regular meetings, Indiana has outrebounded Miami by 84, an average of 12 per game.

This, too, is telling: Pacers center Roy Hibbert has outrebounded Chris Bosh, 48-13, in this playoff series. And Hibbert, who scored just 11.9 per game during the regular season, has averaged 22.7 points in the series, compared with Bosh’s 14.0.

“The guy is making layups,” Dwyane Wade said. “He’s the biggest guy on the court. That’s the kind of impact he should have.”

But Spoelstra said of defending Hibbert: “We’ve got to do more. There’s no excuses.”

### Another indicator of Hibbert’s impact: According to ESPN, LeBron James has driven to the basket 18 times with Hibbert on the court in this series and has five points, on 1 for 3 shooting, on those 18 plays. (He passed 11 times.)

With Hibbert off the court, James has driven to the basket 10 times and made five of six shots.

### Spoelstra said he did not use Norris Cole or any point guard for 6:39 of the second half Tuesday because he wanted to give more minutes to Ray Allen, who played less in the first half that Spoelstra generally prefers. Allen shot 4 for 13 and is now 9 for 29 in the series.

### James shot 1 for 6 on post-ups in Game 4 after shooting 5 for 7 in Game 3. Asked why James didn’t operate out of the post as much in Game 4 as the previous game, Spoelstra said: “You saw about the same amount – you just didn’t see the efficiency. The attention to detail wasn’t the same.”

### None of Bosh’s six shots in Game 4 were within 10 feet of the basket, and even though the Heat likes what he offers on the perimeter, Spoelstra said: “We need to be attentive to make sure we’re getting him in places he can be aggressive in the paint.”

### Only once during the regular season (at Memphis) did the Heat shoot worse than it did in Game 4, when Miami closed at 39 percent from the field.

HILL GETS JOB

Former UM assistant coach Aubrey Hill, who lost his job at the University of Florida last August amid the NCAA's investigation into the Hurricanes football program, has been hired as head coach at Miami Carol City High, school principal JaMarv Dunn said Wednesday night.

"He's the best candidate for the job," Dunn said. "He's the perfect fit. It's in the best interests of the school."

Hill, a Carol City and University of Florida alumnus, was UM's receivers coach from 2008 through 2010 and the Hurricanes' recruiting coordinator in 2010 before leaving for UF, where he served as receivers coach and recruiting coordinator in 2011.

But Hill and UF parted ways days before the 2012 season - a result of Hill being linked to the Nevin Shapiro scandal.

Hill will be appear before the NCAA's infractions committee in mid-June and is among several former UM assistants facing charges of unethical conduct. Several former Hurricanes -- including Jacory Harris, Dyron Dye, Eric Moncur, Randy Phillips and Olivier Vernon -- have written affidavits on his behalf. Dye disputed the NCAA's allegation that Hill "arranged for Shapiro to pay for bowling, beverages and meals" at Lucky Strikes on Miami Beach.

Dunn said he spoke to Hill about the NCAA matter "but I didn't have any concerns. I reviewed it with district personnel. He's entitled to due process."

Hill, 41, was a receiver for the Gators from 1991 to 1994. Besides UM and UF, he also has worked as an assistant coach at Duke, Elon and Pittsburgh.

At Carol City, he replaces Harold Barnwell, who was promoted to athletic director. 

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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