Charlotte Bobcats forward Josh McRoberts has been fined $20,000 for the foul he committed against the Miami Heat's LeBron James with 50 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of Miami's 101-97 win over Charlotte in Wednesday's Game 2 of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series, the NBA announced Thursday. The league also announced that McRoberts' foul — called a common foul on the floor by the officials during the game — has been upgraded to a flagrant-2.
Here's the foul, if you missed it the first time around:
With the Heat holding a 97-94 lead, James isolated against defender Michael Kidd-Gilchrist before dribbling to his left around a screen by teammate Chris Bosh, beating an attempted trap by Bobcats center Al Jefferson and driving to the rim. McRoberts slid over from the left corner, where he had been guarding Mario Chalmers, and met James in the air, hitting him in the throat with his right forearm and sending the reigning MVP sprawling to the court. After taking a moment to collect himself on the ground, James got up and went to the free-throw line, where he hit one of two foul shots. He stayed in the game until the final buzzer.
While the refs on the scene assessed a simple common foul on the play, the league office upgraded the call to a flagrant-2, which is awarded when "contact committed against a player, with or without the ball, is interpreted to be unnecessary and excessive," according to the NBA's rulebook. Had the refs given McRoberts a flagrant-2 at the time, he would have been automatically ejected from the game. Instead, he was allowed to remain in the game, finishing with eight points, four assists and one rebound in 37 1/2 minutes in the loss.
I wrote on Wednesday night that it wouldn't have surprised me at all had the league decided to give McRoberts a one-game suspension after the fact, considering its stated pre-postseason emphasis on flagrant fouls, and specifically contact above the shoulders, and considering the fact that McRoberts never got his arms up to contest James' shot attempt or make any kind of play on the ball. Whether the shot to the throat was intentional or unintentional — McRoberts said after the game it was the latter — it happened, and it was a play dangerous enough to seem like it merited a heave-ho not only in retrospect, but even at the time.
Instead, McRoberts will be available for Game 3 on Saturday. His wallet'll be quite a bit lighter when he gets there, though.
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