By Ben Golliver
Lakers center Dwight Howard was automatically ejected from a Wednesday night game against the Nuggets for a flagrant foul 2 after he hit Kenneth Faried in the face while defending a shot attempt.
Howard extended his left arm and hit Faried square in the face with his hand as he attempted to defend a driving attack in the paint. Faried, who was picking up steam after receiving a pass from Ty Lawson when he was struck by Howard, went straight to the ground holding his face. Replays showed Howard contacted Faried cleanly, in the chin area, knocking him straight to the court on his back.
The foul occurred with 5:01 remaining in the third quarter and the Nuggets leading 79-72. Denver went on to win 126-114.
CBSSports.com reported Howard's post-game assessment of the foul.
"It was a hard foul," Howard said. "That's all I know. I've been fouled harder than that before and nobody's ever gotten kicked out of the game for it, but I get penalized for fouling people hard. It's basketball."
A flagrant foul 2 is given for "unnecessary and excessive contact" and requires an automatic ejection. Howard's foul, like all flagrant fouls, will be reviewed by the league office and could possibly warrant a suspension in addition to his ejection.
According to the NBA's flagrant foul guidelines, Howard will accumulate two points points for the flagrant foul two. Entering the game, Howard had one point, giving him a new total of three points should the league office uphold the official's ruling on the play. Accumulating five points over the course of the season results in an automatic one-game suspension. Howard is not yet subject to this punishment, so any further suspension would be coming at the discretion of the league office and not mandated by the flagrant foul rules.
While the foul fit the "unnecessary and excessive" guidelines for a flagrant foul 2, it was not the type of unquestionably malicious play (swinging elbow, closed-fist punch, etc.) that we generally associate with a discretionary suspension. The league considers the following factors in determining whether to tack on a suspension and/or fine: whether it led to an altercation, whether it caused an injury and how hard the foul was delivered. In this case, there was no post-foul scrum, Faried was able to stay in the game and the foul, as explained, was unnecessary but not brutal. The fact that Howard has no major recent suspensions for dirty plays or hard fouls also helps his cause.
The best guess here: Howard's flagrant foul 2 stands as called on the court and he is not assessed an additional suspension. The Lakers' next game will come against the Blazers on Friday at the Staples Center.
Howard departed with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one block in 27 minutes for the Lakers. Faried finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds in 39 minutes for the Nuggets.
Video via YouTube user theassociation