Grizzlies guard Tony Allen was suspended for one game Tuesday after receiving a Flagrant Foul 2 for kicking Clippers guard Chris Paul in the face while playing defense during Memphis' 106-102 victory on Monday in Los Angeles.
Allen will serve his suspension when the Grizzlies visit the Warriors on Wednesday night. The 10th-year veteran is making $4.5 million this season, and the NBA's one-game suspension will cost him roughly $40,900.
Basketball turned to karate with a little less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter and Memphis leading 25-13. Paul split the defense at the top of the key and took off toward the hoop, sucking in Allen from the left wing. Paul head-faked Allen off the ground, and the Grizzlies' guard spread both his arms and legs to attempt a would-be steal. Paul maintained possession, though, and kept his course toward the hoop until Allen's left leg contacted him squarely on the left side of his head. Paul staggered backward but he did not fall, and he eventually flung the ball backward as he reacted to the direct contact.
The referees initially assessed a Flagrant Foul 1, but that was upgraded to a Flagrant Foul 2 upon video review. The Flagrant Foul 2 designation is issued for fouls that are deemed both "unnecessary and excessive" and it carries an automatic ejection. Allen reacted as if his kick was unintentional, but it's a little difficult for Allen to argue that it was "necessary" for his leg to be more than five feet off the ground, even if the contact was incidental. The NBA has taken a hard line against blows to the head in recent years and that's almost certainly what earned Allen his ejection. If the kick lands on Paul's shoulder, this is likely a different story.
The NBA elected to tack on an additional suspension here despite the fact that Allen apologized to Paul on Twitter.
Allen departed with five points in 10 minutes. Paul was able to continue playing following the unusual foul.
Here's an up-close, animated version of Allen's kick to the face.
Chris Paul takes a leg to the face from Tony Allen. (@CJZero)
Paul and Allen were both selected to the All-Defensive First Team last season.
GIF via @CJZero