Heat forward LeBron James gains post position on Pacers guard Lance Stephenson… (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images )
INDIANAPOLIS — With their season hanging in the balance, the Pacers say they understand changes have to be made if they're to win two straight and advance to the NBA Finals.
They can't let LeBron James put together another performance like the one he had Thursday, when the league most valuable player scored 16 of his game-high 30 points in the third quarter.
They can't allow physical play to get under their skin, and without fail, they say they can't play as passively as they think they did Thursday.
After Game 5, that seemed to be the central theme in the Pacers' locker room, with several players saying they simply weren't aggressive enough when their team needed it most.
"You just have to be aggressive either early on offense or maybe sometimes calling plays to get me more involved," said Pacers guard George Hill, who committed three turnovers, had four fouls and was limited to a single point.
"The way I played ... I am ashamed of myself. I'll bounce back in Game 6. Aggressive, I think that's the key to the game. As long as we're aggressive, that's the key to the game."
Added Lance Stephenson, who had just four points and fouled out in the fourth quarter: "Getting those two fouls early in the game threw me off rhythm. I wasn't able to impact the first quarter and be as aggressive as I usually get. I never got my rhythm back ... we have to be aggressive. We have to play together."
Indiana played well enough in the first half, outshooting the Heat, 51.4% to 42.5%. They led by as many as seven, but things shifted in the third.
They had no answer for James, who single-handedly outscored Indiana, 16-13. They shot just 21% in the quarter and committed five turnovers.
"I think we all came out a little flat. We didn't execute offensively and defensively. Sometimes that sticks around with some people and they get down on themselves," said Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who had 22 points and six rebounds in the loss.
"At this point in the game, we have to let it go and just keep playing. ... It's like small things right now. It's about effort. It's about who wants it more. Who wants to get that offensive rebound? Who wants to get that blocked shot? Who wants to get the loose ball? We just have to come out with more determination."
'Birdman' suspended for Game 6
Miami Heat backup center Chris Andersen has been suspended for Saturday's Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers, with his flagrant-1 foul in Thursday's Game 5 victory upgraded Friday by the NBA to a flagrant-2 foul.
The suspension is the result of a scuffle with Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough with 9:02 remaining in the second quarter of the Heat's 90-79 victory.
In announcing the upgrade of the flagrant foul and the suspension, the NBA, in a release, noted how Andersen knocked Hansbrough to the floor and "resisted efforts to bring the altercation to an end." After the incident, Andersen attempted to shove past referee Marc Davis before he was restrained by a member of the Heat's security staff.
Had Andersen been called for a flagrant 2 at the time of the incident, he would have been ejected. However, such a call probably would have left him eligible for Saturday's game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Andersen, known for his colorful tattoos, Mohawk haircut and "Birdman" nickname, was assessed a flagrant-1 foul in the immediate wake of the incident, with Andersen and Hansbrough each assessed technical fouls at the time as well. The NBA announced Friday that Hansbrough's technical foul has been rescinded.
Although Andersen has had a limited effect in the last two games, with the Heat holding a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, he is 15 of 15 from the field in the series, with 18 consecutive conversions from the field going back to the Heat's Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Chicago Bulls.
Although the ruling was made by NBA Vice President Stu Jackson, NBA Commissioner David Stern said earlier in the day in an interview with NBC Sports Radio, "I don't know what he was doing. A serious review of his activities is called for.''
The flagrant-2 ruling gives Andersen two points in the NBA's postseason flagrant scale. A player is suspended when he exceeds three flagrant points, meaning if Andersen is called for a flagrant-2 foul upon his return, he not only would be ejected from that game, but suspended for the ensuing game, as well.
Andersen was not available for comment after Thursday night's game nor did he talk after Friday's practice at AmericanAirlines Arena.