With under three minutes to play in the Mavericks’ Game 4 win over the Rockets, Tyson Chandler and Dwight Howard got tangled up under the basket.
Unlike the somewhat similar play that occurred between Kevin Love and Kelly Olynyk that cost Love the remainder of the postseason due to injury, no one was hurt in the Chandler-Howard exchange.
But that’s only because a right-handed swing that Chandler took at Howard ultimately missed its mark.
A play like that is supposed to result in an automatic ejection, if in fact it was determined that Chandler was throwing a punch. It could also have resulted in a suspension, but evidently the league decided to look the other way, and believe that Chandler’s intent wasn’t to hurt Howard, but to merely break free.
From Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
The NBA opted not to take any further action on an altercation in which Mavericks center Tyson Chandler seemed to take a swing at Rockets center Dwight Howard, a person with knowledge of the decision said. …
NBA rules call for a one-game suspension for trying to strike an opponent, whether open-handed or with a closed fist or whether it lands or not. But Chandler’s swing at Howard could have been ruled as part of the effort to get free. …
“It’s playoff basketball,” Dwight Howard said. “He’s fighting for his life. We’re fighting to move on. It’s going to be a battle. I don’t care (if the games are physical), as long as we get a chance to fight and hit back. It really doesn’t matter to me. I understand what they’re goal is as far as to try to get me frustrated, to try to get me to pick up some cheap fouls. I just have to stay away from it.”
Chandler denied having any intention of starting an altercation.
Chandler said he hadn’t heard any of that speculation until shoot around before Game 5 on Tuesday.
“That is the first time I heard that,” Chandler said. “I didn’t throw any punches. I wouldn’t throw a punch at Dwight.”
Other than perhaps Rockets fans in this instance, no one is rooting for players to be suspended. But it seems pretty clear that Chandler was frustrated and took a swing at Howard here, which means the rules pertaining to a situation like this one should have been properly enforced.