On Tuesday morning, prior to the Lakers and Rockets playing Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the league announced that it was retroactively assigning both Anthony Davis and James Harden fouls for actions that took place in the two teams’ second matchup of the NBA playoffs.
In Davis’ case, he’s being given a Flagrant 1 for the play below, in which he appears to hit Jeff Green somewhere in the torso-to-waist area.
LAL’s Anthony Davis assessed a Flagrant Foul 1 upon league review for his contact against HOU’s Jeff Green at 0:15 of 2nd qtr on 9/6/20. pic.twitter.com/NAYSyyugoL— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) September 8, 2020
Was that intentional? It’s hard to tell from the replay. It is definitely possible that Davis was throwing an elbow, but his intentions also don’t appear totally clear after watching the replay a few times.
What is clear, though, is that the Rockets thought it was on purpose, with both general manager Daryl Morey and CEO Tad Brown whining about the play on Twitter:
No accountability— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) September 7, 2020
It would be greatly appreciated if opposing players would stop punching our players in the balls during the game. Seems to be a thing lately, not sure why.— Tad Brown (@tadbbrown) September 7, 2020
Hits to the groin are a bit of a sore spot for the Rockets during this playoff run, as they’ve already complained openly about Thunder guard Chris Paul doing the same to Ben McLemore in their previous series. Their carping worked in this case, as now Davis has one Flagrant Foul point.
Why does that matter if the game is already over, you ask? Well, because if Davis gets many more, it could cost him a playoff game, as broken down by Sports Illustrated:
Any player who is called for two flagrant “1” fouls in the same game will be automatically ejected from that game. The playoffs, however, use an additional three-point repercussion system that was implemented in 2010 and resulted in Draymond Green’s suspension for Game 5 of the 2016 Finals for Golden State. During postseason play, each flagrant is awarded a point: one for flagrant “1” calls and two for flagrant “2” fouls.
If a player’s playoff point total exceeds 3 points, he will receive an automatic suspension following the game in which his point total passes three points. Each additional flagrant foul committed during the playoffs results in suspensions of greater severity. Here is the NBA’s official point system:
Player at 2 points commits a FFP2: automatic one-game suspension
Player at 3 or 4 points commits a FFP1: automatic one-game suspension
Player at 3 or 4 points commits a FFP2: automatic two-game suspension
Player at 5 points or more commits a FFP1 or FFP2: automatic two-game suspension
So was Davis’ foul warranted? Maybe, I can’t really say, and it’s kind of weird that the NBA was willing to, but I digress. The Lakers did seemingly get some sort of screwed up “make-up call” as part of this dumb exchange, though, as Harden was also assessed a retroactive technical foul for hitting Davis in Game 2:
J. Harden’s (HOU) contact against A. Davis (LAL) at 4:35 of 1st qtr on 9/6/20 ruled a dead-ball technical foul after league review. pic.twitter.com/aeUT8gJcYI— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) September 8, 2020
All of this is pretty lame, as is the constant whining and complaining throughout this series. In this case, though, the Rockets’ gamesmanship appeared to work. Expect it to only embolden them moving forward.