With a little more than four minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Pacers leading 66-47, Hill stepped in to steal a Joe Johnson pass and took off for the races. Pierce tried to prevent the transition opportunity by reaching across Hills body's with his left arm, and he contacted Hill in the neck and face as he swiped at the ball. At no time during the play did Pierce come close to getting the ball, and the force of his clothesline spun Hill hard to the ground and caused his head to whiplash backwards.
Even if Pierce wasn't headhunting, it was a dangerous play, and it fits the NBA's criteria for a Flagrant Foul 2, a designation given when contact is deemed "unnecessary and excessive" by the officials. The ejection in these situations is automatic. Given the force of the blow and the fact that Pierce made contact with Hill's head, it's possible that a further sanction, in the form of a fine and/or a suspension, could be coming following a league office review.
Pierce departed with zero points (on 0-for-7 shooting) and two rebounds in 15 minutes of action, marking his first scoreless game since March 9, 1999. The New York Daily News reports that Pierce did not answer questions from the media after the game.
Indiana improved to 23-5 with the win thanks to Paul George, who finished with 26 points (on 10-for-19 shooting), six rebounds and five assists. Lance Stephenson also scored 26 points (on 10-for-16 shooting) while tallying seven rebounds and five assists.Kevin Garnett