With under two minutes remaining in a tight game between the Thunder and the Clippers, Serge Ibaka chopped down with his right arm and struck Blake griffin in the groin, causing Griffin to crumble to the floor.
There’s no doubt the act was intentional on Ibaka’s part, but the referees didn’t see it as an actual punch, only ruling it as a flagrant-one which meant that Ibaka was allowed to remain in the game.
Ibaka went on to draw Griffin’s sixth foul by converting a three-point play a few possessions later, meaning Griffin had fouled out and was done, while Ibaka got to stay in and contribute to his team’s victory during the game’s most meaningful possessions.
It’s possible that Ibaka’s intention was to chop away Griffin’s arm that was keeping him out of position, and it’s even likely that Ibaka wasn’t intending to catch Griffin where he did with that shot. But it landed nonetheless, and the referees should have ejected him for it.
We’ll see if the league reviews the play and determines it was more deserving of punishment than the referees did on the spot.