Suns guard/forward P.J. Tucker was ejected after delivering a blow to Clippers forward Blake Griffin during L.A.'s 112-105 home victory on Monday.
The action commenced with a little more than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and the Clippers holding a 104-90 lead. Griffin initially backed down Tucker on the right block before drawing a double team and kicking out to Matt Barnes, who launched an open jumper. As the shot missed, Griffin leaned into Tucker in an attempt to establish rebounding position and the two players fell to the ground as they locked up, with Griffin pancaking Tucker in the paint.
As Griffin moved to free himself, Tucker swung his right forearm toward Griffin, making contact with Griffin's head or neck area. Griffin's head snapped backward and he immediately looked to reengage with Tucker, using his left arm to shove him, before players from both teams and the officials rushed in to separate the two players.
"[I] just got pulled to the ground and I guess he didn't like that," Griffin said during a post-game interview that aired on Fox Sports West. "I don't know, I haven't really seen it, I haven't really looked at it, it's hard to tell while it's happening."
The top-down replay appeared to indicate forceful, direct contact from Tucker to Griffin.
P.J. Tucker delivered a blow to Blake Griffin. (NBA TV)
After reviewing the exchange, the officials assessed Tucker a loose ball foul and a technical foul before ejecting him for the blow. He departed with 14 points (on 3-for-5 shooting), 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals on the night.
As with any punch or punch-like motion, Tucker's play will be subject to a review by the NBA league office, which can assess an additional fine or suspension. Given recent punching precedents -- like DeMarcus Cousins, Ersan Ilyasova and O.J. Mayo -- there's a good chance that Tucker will be suspended for at least one game and hit with a fine. Phoenix's next game is at home against Cleveland on Wednesday.
This isn't the first time during the 2013-14 season that Griffin has been the recipient of rough play from his opponents. Back in November, Heat guard Mario Chalmers delivered a forearm to Griffin's neck that earned him a $15,000 fine. Following a Christmas Day game, Warriors forward Draymond Green was fined $15,000 for failing to leave the court after he was ejected for delivering a flagrant elbow to Griffin's head. Then, in January, Pacers forward David West was fined $15,000 for delivering a flagrant elbow to Griffin.
Monday night's incident marred an otherwise outstanding evening for Griffin, who scored a game-high 37 points (on 14-for-16 shooting) and added six rebounds and three assists. Chris Paul chipped in 17 points (on 7-for-16 shooting), 11 assists and five rebounds in the win.
Goran Dragic paced the Suns with 23 points (on 7-for-12 shooting), five assists and three steals. Seven Suns finished in double figures.
The Clippers improved to 45-20 with their eighth straight win. The Suns dropped to 36-27 with their second consecutive loss.