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The NBA announced Wednesday that Indiana Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson has been fined $5,000 for violating the league's anti-flopping rules during the Pacers' 87-83 Game 2 loss to the Miami Heat at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Tuesday night. This earns Stephenson several somewhat dubious distinctions — he's the first player fined for flopping this postseason, the first-ever repeat offender when it comes to playoff flopping fines, and the first player to receive three such fines.
The play in question took place with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter of Game 2:
After Heat center Chris Bosh rejected a layup attempt by Stephenson, Heat star LeBron James rebounded the swat and took off on offense. Stephenson hustled to get back into the play behind James, who stopped short and hesitated with his dribble to invite the contact from the trailing Stephenson. The Brooklyn-born guard responded to the slight collision, before which he braced himself by extending his left arm, by careening to the floor.
The officials were unmoved, whistling Stephenson for a blocking foul, his second of the game; Lance responded to this by rolling over onto his side and taking what appeared to be a brief distress nap before being helped to his feet and soldiering on. Stephenson finished with a game-high 25 points on 10-for-17 shooting, seven assists and six rebounds in the loss, which gave Miami home-court advantage in the best-of-seven and tied the series at one game apiece headed to Florida for Game 3 on Saturday.
The NBA introduced a system to penalize flopping before the 2012-13 regular season, with the first violation bringing only a warning; after that, the fines start. A second confirmed flop costs $5,000, a third $10,000, a fourth $15,000 and a fifth $30,000. If a player got rung up a sixth time, he'd be "subject to discipline reasonable under the circumstances, including an increased fine and/or suspension," according to the guidelines. Nobody got anywhere close to that, of course; only five players (Reggie Evans, Gerald Wallace, J.J. Barea, Kevin Martin and Omer Asik) received $5,000 fines last regular season, while six took the $5,000 hit this regular season ... including Lance Stephenson. (The others: James Harden, Corey Brewer, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Jennings and P.J. Tucker.)
The NBA also introduced upgraded penalties for the playoffs prior to the 2012-13 postseason, eliminating the first-flop warning and levying a $5,000 fine after the first violation. Eight players were dinged during the 2012-13 playoffs: Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher, then-Pacers big man Jeff Pendergraph (now called Jeff Ayres with the San Antonio Spurs), New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith, Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, James, Stephenson and David West, and Chris Bosh.
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