The NBA has ruled that an elbow delivered by Heat guard Dwyane Wade to the head of Pacers guard Lance Stephenson during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals was a flagrant play but that it was not worthy of a suspension. Wade will be eligible to play in Game 3 in Indianapolis on Sunday.
Holding an 89-88 lead with a little more than four minutes remaining in the regulation, the Pacers pushed the ball upcourt following a Heat turnover. Wade, who was running back in transition, jumped when he hit the midcourt line, contacting the left side of Stephenson's head with his left elbow while in midair. The blow sent Stephenson to the ground, but no foul was called and Indiana's possession continued.
The play was retroactively upgraded to a flagrant foul 1 by the league office, a designation applied to fouls that are "unnecessary." Indiana went on to win 97-93 on Friday to even the series at one game apiece.
The Sun-Sentinel reported the non-reaction from the Heat following Monday's shootaround.
Wade declined comment after participating in Sunday morning's shootaround on the practice court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but coach Erik Spoelstra said he did not believe the play merited a suspension, which could have been the case with a retroactive Flagrant 2 ruling.
Back in December, Wade was suspended one game by the NBA for delivering a low blow to Bobcats guard Ramon Sessions. At the time, Wade, who has also been in high-profile incidents with Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo, defended himself from accusations that he is a dirty player.
“I’m far from being a dirty player and my intent was never to kick Ramon Sessions,” Wade wrote. “I just reacted to the contact that I got from him. More than anything, I think of my boys watching me before retaliating toward any player. I’m moving forward and ready to get back on the court in Milwaukee.”
Knicks guard J.R. Smith was ejected and later suspended for one game against the Celtics after elbowing Jason Terry in the head during the first-round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Wade, 31, is averaging 13.7 points, 5.3 assists and 5.0 rebounds during the postseason.
Video via YouTube user OUOutreach | Hat tip: CBSSports.com