When you see the play above most people who are not Thunder faithful thought Serge Ibaka punched Blake Griffin in the groin and should have been ejected. But he wasn’t, it was ruled a flagrant 1 foul, and Ibaka went on to make key plays down the stretch (including drawing Griffin’s sixth foul) that helped lift the Thunder over the Clippers Sunday.
So is the league going to step in and up the penalty and suspend Ibaka? Nope.
The league announced that it has upgraded the foul from a Flagrant 1 to a Flagrant 2, but Ibaka will only be fined $25,000 and not suspended for a game (Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reported this was how it would go down). If the referees had called a flagrant 2 in the game Ibaka would have been ejected and maybe the end of the game plays out differently. The Clippers are shaking their heads at this one, and they should be.
My two cents: It was a bad call then and is a bad call now. It looks like what the league wanted was to make sure Ibaka was in uniform Tuesday night when the Thunder face the Lakers on national televisio.
Ibaka’s supporters say that he wasn’t throwing a punch, he was trying to dislodge Blake’s hand as he had a fistful of Ibaka’s jersey? My response is that fistfuls of jerseys are grabbed on better than half the rebound battles in the NBA, but you don’t get to take a swing to dislodge the guy’s hand.
That’s not how the league sees it.
We also are still awaiting word on if J.J. Barea will get a fine or suspension for his body check of Ray Allen on Monday night.
Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)
Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.
Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.
It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.
Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’
“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”
Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.
His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.
Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)
Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.
“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”
Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.
But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.