This went unnoticed during Thursday night’s closer-than-expected contest between the Knicks and the Thunder, but you can bet that the league will be reviewing it in the days that follow.
With about 5:20 remaining in the fourth quarter, J.R. Smith takes an aggressive swing with his right elbow to the head of Thabo Sefolosha. Thankfully for everyone involved, he missed. But it was a violent attempt, and the intent was clear.
The two were battling physically on this particular possession, and usually when it escalates to the point where one player is taking a swing at another, it’s because little shots here and there have been delivered throughout the game, likely from both sides.
The league isn’t afraid to step in to correct something that the officials at the time ignored completely, and did so just over a week ago when Metta World Peace received a flagrant two foul three days after landing an elbow to the head of Kenneth Faried.
It’ll be interesting to see if the league comes down on Smith for this. The rule book states that a player, coach or trainer must be ejected for a “Technical foul for an attempted punch or swing with no contact or a thrown elbow toward an opponent above shoulder level with no contact.”
That could mean a retroactive flagrant two, a fine, a suspension, or none of the above. We’ll have to wait and see.