Ball Don't Lie - NBA

As you've seen by now, Blazers high-flyer Rudy Fernandez was taken from the court on a stretcher with his neck in a brace Monday night after he was fouled hard by Lakers forward Trevor Ariza. X-rays and a CT scan were negative, but Fernandez is expected to miss some time. Here's what they're saying out in the ether about the foul ...

Blazer's Edge: "If you ask me whether Trevor Ariza went up with the intent to harm Rudy I would say no. However I don't believe he necessarily cared whether he did harm Rudy in that instance. You generally don't go for that play when you're that badly beaten, especially in the midst of a 20+ point blowout. You don't go in from that angle either, for exactly this reason. He clearly did not try to take off Rudy's head, but just as clearly you can't avoid taking off the guy's head making that kind of play, as it is directly between you and the ball. The Flagrant 2 was warranted for carelessness and disregard if nothing else. As Mike Barrett noted, this is not the first time the Lakers have tangled with Portland like this."

FanHouse: "When you look at the replay, all Ariza did was whiff on a block attempt, and (again, unfortunately) catch Fernandez in the head instead of getting his hand on the ball. Fernandez's fall was awkward, which led to the perceived severity of the play committed by Ariza. But honestly, it was neither a dirty nor a flagrant attempt by Ariza to send any kind of message. Brandon Roy took exception to the foul, as any good teammate would when one of his own violently hits the deck like that. Understood, and Ariza's mouthing off back at Roy was honestly uncalled for given the circumstances. But is this really a flagrant two foul that should warrant an automatic ejection? No, no it's not. And if the league is going to change something like Glen Davis' obvious head-hunting attempt down to a flagrant one, we can probably expect the same thing regarding this unfortunate (but unintentional) play from Ariza."

A Stern Warning: "Despite the lack of intent to harm Rudy, the aftermath of the play was one of the most sickening I've witnessed in a while. Watching him appear to shake involuntarily, left alone whilst the remainder of both teams were involved in a squabble in the corner of the court, sent shivers down my spine. On the play itself, you will see that Ariza (aka "Son of McClary") appears to swat at the ball, collecting instead the Spaniard's head and then following through to take out his arm. The result is that the Blazer's body is twisted and he lands very heavily (despite his wiry frame) on his hip. What made matters worse on this play was that Fernandez was still on the upward flight of his approach on the basket, meaning he had momentum in a different direction to that which Ariza knocked him. Had he already reached the basket, the result may not have been so spectacularly awful."

Basketbawful: "Now, I'm very sorry that Rudy got hurt. It's a real shame. But that was a hard foul and nothing more. Guys like Anthony Mason, Bill Laimbeer, Charles Oakley, Dennis Rodman, Rick Mahorn, et al. used to deliver fouls like that AT LEAST a half dozen times PER GAME. Hell, Rodman once wrestled Karl Malone to the ground during the NBA Finals IN FRONT OF AN OFFICIAL and their was no call. I'm not kidding. I just can't believe that Trevor was trying to put the hurt on Rudy. And I'm even a little on the fence as to whether that should have been a Flagrant — although I guess any head contact these days warrants that — but Ariza certainly shouldn't have been ejected."

Beyond The Beat: "It was one of those love-hate moments. For the past few months, I’ve been barking about the Portland Trail Blazers being devoid of physical emotion and toughness. The Blazers were forced to bark back on Monday night. I loved seeing Portland take a stand against the Los Angeles Lakers — a series that is constantly chippy. I loved seeing Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Travis Outlaw display some much needed chutzpah in the final seconds of the third quarter. I just hated to see it come at the expense of Rudy Fernandez [...] It’s that time of season. Games will be physical from here on out."

Hardwood Paroxysm: I'd noticed Ariza before. Ariza is a true Hustle Junkie. Nothing but foot on the pedal. The kind of guy you love if he’s on your side. Heck, with all the dunks and breakaway steals, most people in the general NBA loved his resurgence too. But I kept noticing that he’d dive for balls through players. He’d go for fouls with arms fully extended, often making a lot of contact. I mean, it was fun to watch. Seriously. But I kept thinking, 'wow, that’s dangerous.' Again. And again. [...] I’m not saying that players need to not touch each other on defense. I’m not saying there’s no place for hard fouls. I’m not saying that if a guy puts an elbow in your back, you don’t remind him next time he goes up. But there’s got to be some semblance of respect for the guys that share the floor with you. They’re trying to make a living, just the same as you. I’m in competition with another company, I don’t want to do something that results in their house getting torn down. You can want to win without abandoning regard for the safety of the other 6-foot to 7-foot full speed players you’re battling against. The game was over. Rudy was going up for a simple dunk."

Lakers Blog, OC Register: "Then there is April 10. That’s when the Lakers must make a final trip to Portland’s Rose Garden and don’t think the Trail Blazers or their fans are going to miss that game. 'We almost get into it every time with them,' Brandon Roy said. 'It seems like when we started beating them, they start doing the bully thing and the hard fouls. Every time we are going to show them that we are not going to back down. We’re going to be right there in their face.'"

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