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).