Pacers guard Lance Stephenson was called for a flagrant foul after he smacked Heat guard Norris Cole in the face during Miami's 117-92 closeout victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals on Friday.
With 8:47 remaining in the second quarter and Miami leading 33-20, Stephenson closed out on Cole on the perimeter, swiping him in the face with his left hand as Cole tracked down a loose ball. The force of the blow immediately sent Cole to the court.
Stephenson was assessed a Flagrant Foul 1, a designation that applies to contact that is deemed "unnecessary." He was allowed to remain in the game.
"It was unnecessary, excessive," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Thankfully, Norris was able to get up, and he was fine after that."
Spoelstra added that the blow bloodied Cole's nose.
"Lightning rod" is the best way to describe the 23-year-old Stephenson at this point, as he's been fined for flopping and criticized for blowing in LeBron James' ear in recent days. He also entered Miami's huddle during Game 5.
Stephenson finished with 11 points (on 4-for-9 shooting), four rebounds and one assist in Game 6.
“Everybody is hurt," he said afterwards. "Everybody worked so hard to get to the point we are at right now. We keep losing when we get here. I just feel like we just need to keep working hard and learn from this stuff and get ready for next season. Hopefully we can get back here and show we belong here.”
Miami clinched its fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals by eliminating Indiana and will now turn its attention to winning a third straight championship.
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