NBA: No Game 5 suspension for Dwight Howard, flagrant-1 for hit on Andrew Bogut stands as called


Al Horford was ejected from the Hawks’ Game 3 loss to the Cavaliers for this.

J.R. Smith was ejected and suspended two games for this.

Dwight Howard received only a flagrant-one foul, with no ejection, for this.

One of these things is not like the others, but the NBA ruled that Howard’s hit on Andrew Bogut wasn’t as severe, and therefore won’t be subjected to any additional punishment.

From Ken Berger of

The NBA’s review of Dwight Howard’s contact with Andrew Bogut concluded that it did not rise to the level of excessive because Howard was trying to free himself from a tie-up with Bogut, president of basketball operations Rod Thorn told Tuesday.

“It was a very close call as far as I’m concerned,” Thorn said. “As Bogut is holding his arm down, Howard tries to extricate his arm. He doesn’t hit him with his elbow, by the way. He hits him with the back of his hand, maybe a touch of the wrist. To me, it was unnecessary, but I didn’t think it was excessive.” …

“Having been here forever and having done this stuff for a long time, I just try to look at each situation as it comes up,” Thorn said. “Obviously, we have all of the information from everything we’ve ever done before, plus tape and video of everything we’ve done before to fall back on. As far as the name of the player, I’ve never let that enter into it.”

This was extremely similar to the hit Smith was suspended for, but evidently, the league saw it differently.

The fact that Howard will be available for Game 5 is good news for Rockets fans, but most everyone else will view the ruling as being extremely inconsistent.

PBT Podcast: We’re back (finally), talking Curry, Harden, and what should be a Flagrant Foul

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We’re back.

The ProBasketballTalk Podcast has returned to, with PBT’s Kurt Helin and NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard talking all things NBA. Expect a couple podcasts a week from the entire PBT crew now through the peak of free agency talking about the games, the free agency moves, and bringing in experts — in the draft, on teams that are making moves — to entertain and drop some knowledge.

In this edition of the podcast talking about Stephen Curry’s injury and return, James Harden’s fantastic playoff run, LeBron James being LeBron, and comparing the Dwight Howard and Al Horford flagrant fouls. Plus, predictions for the upcoming games.

Listen to the podcast below or  you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

PBT Extra: Will Dwight Howard’s foul on Bogut be upgraded to a Flagrant 2? Should it?


UPDATE 8:02 pm: The NBA league office has ruled that there will be no upgrade of the foul, and with that no suspension for Dwight Howard.

I would like to not be cynical about this and say this decision was about what happened on the court and not making sure a star and key player for the Rockets is available for Game 5, but these kinds of decisions make it impossible.

3:59 pm: The NBA finds itself in the middle of differing interpretations of the same rule.

On one hand, you have Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks being ejected after throwing The People’s Elbow on Matthew Dellavedova in the Eastern Conference Finals. In this case the officials ruled that: 1) The foul that preceded the elbow (with Dellavedova rolling into Horford’s knee) should not factor in the decision; 2) The blow to the head meant and automatic ejection.

Then in Game 4 of the Warriors and Rockets, Andrew Bogut fouls Dwight Howard with a two-hand shove and Howard responds with an elbow/arm fling to get Bogut off him that ends up connecting with Bogut’s head. Howard got a Flagrant 1 foul and stayed in the game.

For me, both fouls should have just been a Flagrant 1, no way Horford should have been ejected, but that does not mean up upgrade Howard’s foul.

But will the league do that? If this becomes a Flagrant 2 for Howard he will have exceeded the NBA’s technical foul points limit for the playoffs and will be suspended a game. Would the league really upgrade a foul and bench a star player in an elimination game?

Never say never, but I would be surprised.

That said, this speaks to the need for more consistency of calls, particularly on flagrant fouls (and fines for that matter, both feel more like roulette than a system).

If NBA upgrades’ Dwight Howard’s blow to Bogut to a Flagrant 2, Howard will be suspended for Game 5


Atlanta’s Al Horford was ejected from Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals for a blow to Matthew Dellavedova’s head. Agree with it or not with the call (and I don’t, I thought it should have been a Flagrant 1), the NBA backed it.

Based on that Al Horford precedent, Dwight Howard should have gotten a Flagrant 2 and ejected for that blow to Andrew Bogut’s head in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals Monday. He wasn’t, he got a Flagrant 1.

Here’s what should worry Rocket fans (and Kevin McHale):

The NBA will review that flagrant foul, as they do all of them, and they may upgrade it to a Flagrant 2 after the fact.

And if that happens, Howard would be suspended for Game 5 Wednesday in Oakland.

The NBA has a point system, and if a player picks up more than three points for flagrant fouls in the playoffs, he gets suspended for a game. Howard already has two points for two Flagrant Fouls earlier in the postseason, and a Flagrant 2 would be worth two points.

Go ahead and argue if you want Rockets fans. If you watched the Howard/Bogut video above and said “but Bogut fouled Howard first” you’re right. It also doesn’t matter, according to referee Kenny Mauer who made the call on Horford. He said Sunday the fact the blow was retaliation for a play where Dellavedova earned a technical was irrelevant. Mauer also said the blow to the head gave him no choice but to make the call to toss Horford.

If what Horford did merited a Flagrant II and an ejection, Howard should have gotten one as well. It will be interesting to see how the league handles this one.



Elimination game Josh Smith is a thing, Rockets live to play another day


For the fourth time these playoffs, the Houston Rockets stepped on the court knowing if they lost they could make tee times for golfing the next morning — their season would be over.

On just the Rockets’ second possession of the game, Josh Smith walked into a straight on three early in the clock — a shot the Warriors will gladly let him take.

Smith drained it.

He did it again a couple minutes later, capping a 12-0 run by the Rockets to start the game that set the tone for the night. The Rockets held off the Warriors charges in a wild game to survive and get to play in Game 5 Wednesday.

“He started it off for us, knocking down shots and being aggressive,” James Harden said of Smith. “That’s what we need, our four men — Josh and TJ (Terrence Jones) — to be aggressive. Be aggressive and attack the basket. He kind of got it going for us, and the other guys picked it up.”

Smith has done this all playoffs — when the Rockets are up against the wall, it’s Smith making plays. Elimination game Smith is a thing.

In the four Rockets’ elimination games this season, Smith has 63 points on 22-of-34 shooting (64.7 percent). In those games, he’s hit 10-of-18 from three. Most impressive, in those games he’s 10-of-13 on contested looks — even when the defense comes out on him he’s knocking it down.

If your reaction to that is “he can’t sustain that level of play” you’d be right. Over the course of a season he will not sustain it — but in a playoff series he doesn’t have to. Just a quarter here (say, the fourth quarter of Game 6 against the Clippers) or a game there.

Smith just isn’t ready for his time with the Rockets to end. He came to Houston mid-season after Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons paid him just to go away. Smith was a free agent with options, but chose to come to the Rockets because of a relationship with Dwight Howard and the chance to win. When this season is over, Smith is a free agent who could land anywhere. But he’s not letting that time come to an end just yet.

It’s not just Smith; other guys step up in these games as well.

“Josh (Smith) got us off to a great start, James (Harden) had a phenomenal game… I thought Trev (Ariza) did a really good job for us early, hit some big shots”

James Harden is obviously the engine for the Rockets’ offense and in the four closeout games he has a combined 125 points (including 45 against the Rockets Monday). He has hit 34-of-60 shots in those close out games and has a dozen threes.

Beyond him, Dwight Howard has 70 points in those games and is shooting 53.9 percent on contested looks in those contests. Trevor Ariza has 74 points in the games and is 16-of-33 from three. Corey Brewer has knocked down some big shots, particularly in the Game 6 comeback against the Clippers.

The Rockets will need three more can’t miss games from Smith and friends to advance past the Warriors, and that is unlikely. It goes back to the idea that the Rockets can’t sustain that level of shooting, that their role players will regress to the mean. Probably during Game 5 in Oakland.

Maybe. But the Rockets don’t have to sustain the crazy level of shooting that long. Just enough to survive another day. If you don’t think that can happen, you haven’t watched this resilient Rockets team these playoffs.