The NBA announced Saturday that Knicks guard J.R. Smith has been suspended one game without pay for delivering an elbow to Celtics guard Jason Terry that was deemed a flagrant foul 2 during a 90-76 Game 3 win on Friday night in Boston.
Smith will serve his suspension during Game 4 on Sunday.
With a little more than seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and New York leading 78-59, Smith appeared to intentionally swing his right elbow into Terry's head and neck area in an attempt to create space so he could operate on the perimeter. The blow sent Terry crashing to the floor and, once he popped up, had to be restrained from going after Smith by teammate Jeff Green.
A video review of the play led the referees to assess a flagrant foul 2, which requires an automatic ejection. The flagrant foul 2 designation applies to fouls that are deemed both “unnecessary and excessive.” All flagrant fouls are reviewed by the NBA league office and are subject to possible further discipline that could include a fine and/or suspension.
Smith departed with 15 points (on six-for-12 shooting), four rebounds, three assists and two steals in 24 minutes. Smith and Knicks coach Mike Woodson provided their post-game reactions to the New York Times.
“I was trying to draw the foul,” Smith said. “He reached in one time. I thought he was going to reach in again a second time. I was going to try to get a quick shot off, but they made a call that the refs saw. Not really much I could do about it.”
“He’ll learn from it,” Woodson said. “I don’t think he was trying to hurt the kid.”
The Knicks, the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed, hold a 3-0 series lead over the Celtics, the East's No. 7 seed. New York can clinch its first playoff series victory since 2000 with a Game 4 win.
Smith, 27, averaged 18.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.3 steals this season, earning NBA Sixth Man of the Year honors. He is on the books for $2.8 million; a one-game suspension will cost him roughly $25,000.