By Ben Golliver
The NBA announced Sunday that Pistons guard Will Bynum has been suspended one game for "striking" Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough in the stomach during Detroit's 90-72 loss to Indiana at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday night. He will not be eligible to play when the Pistons host the Hawks on Monday.
Bynum is on the books for $3.3 million this season. The one-game suspension without pay will cost him roughly $29,500.
With a little less than nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Pacers leading 70-50, Bynum attempted to follow D.J. Augustin through a high screen by Hansbrough. As Bynum got caught up a bit on the play, he clocked Hansbrough with a swinging, closed-fist punch to the midsection, causing Hansbrough to double over and nearly fall to the ground. An official, staring right at the play, immediately assessed a flagrant foul 2 and automatically ejected Bynum for the obvious blow.
A flagrant foul 2 applies to plays that are deemed both “unnecessary and excessive” and results in an automatic disqualification. Bynum's foul, like all flagrant fouls, was subject to review by the NBA league office, which has the ability to tack on an additional fine and/or suspension.
MLive.com reported that both Bynum and Pistons coach Lawrence Frank claimed the punch was unintentional, with Frank actually pointing the finger back at Hansbrough, who is known as one of the league's most aggravating competitors.
"It wasn't (done) intentionally but it kind of happened through the course of the game," Bynum said in the empty Pistons locker room. "The game was kind of physical. It was during the heat of the moment.
"I don't know but I think it's probably the competitiveness of it," Frank said. "I don't know if necessarily on that play he was provoked. I think Hansbrough was going to screen him. I don't think Will did anything intentional. I think (Bynum) swung his arm. To me, from the naked eye, it didn't look intentional.
"But Hansbrough is an instigator. That's just how he plays and sometimes he crosses the line. And guys respond back. I don't think Hansbrough did anything on that particular play. But I'd have to look at the tape."
Bynum departed with 15 points (on seven-for-14 shooting), three rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes.