To LeBron James, the simple solution could have prevented the bigger mess.
While not directly calling out the officiating crew at Tuesday’s Game 5 of this Miami Heat-Indiana Pacers Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series, James said Thursday that harsher immediate action could have prevented the eventual suspension of Heat power forward Udonis Haslem for Thursday night’s Game 6 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
James said had Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough been immediately cited for a Flagrant 2 foul Tuesday and ejected for his hard hit on Dwyane Wade, then there would have been no retaliation foul from Haslem. Hansbrough instead was cited for a Flagrant 1 foul, which allowed him to remain in the game. The NBA later upgraded the violation to a Flagrant 2 foul, which would have mandated immediate ejection.
Fifty-seven seconds after Hansbrough’s hard foul, Haslem committed his hard foul on Hansbrough, which resulted in Haslem being suspended for Game 6. Haslem’s foul also was upgraded after the fact to a Flagrant 2 violation.
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While Flagrant 2 violations result in immediate ejection, they do not automatically result in ensuing suspension, which is a league-office decision.
“If there was a Flagrant 2 to start with,” James said, “then U.D. would have never fouled him, which means U.D. never would have got suspended. I mean Hansbrough, it’s not the first time that he went after one of our players this year. We have two guys suspended and basically they have no one suspended.”
Heat backup center Dexter Pittman also was suspended, for three games, after being called for a Flagrant 1 in Game 5 that also was upgraded by the NBA office.
James said he had no doubt that Hansbrough’s blow to Wade’s head, which drew blood, should have resulted in immediate ejection.
“He definitely wasn’t going for the ball,” he said. “All you’ve got to do is look at the play and see exactly where he was headed for. He walked right away. He knew exactly what he had done. We just got a free throw and the ball on the side.”
Wade said the incident wouldn’t change the way he plays.
“I’m going to attack,” he said. “Just because someone hit me, it doesn’t mean it’s going to stop me from attacking.”
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