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The league office announced Monday that the technical foul Westbrook picked up from veteran official Ed Malloy midway through the fourth quarter of the Oklahoma City Thunder's Sunday loss to the Indiana Pacers has been rescinded. The tech — which came after Westbrook had objected to the personal foul he'd been assessed for knocking over Pacers forward Luis Scola while trying to fight over a screen — stood as Westbrook's league-leading 16th tech of the season, which would mandate an automatic one-game suspension, per the league's official rulebook.
Here's the call in question, which the NBA later deemed too questionable a call to stand:
Reasonable people can differ as to whether A) Westbrook should have been T'd up in the first place for what seemed like a relatively mild dispute of the foul call and/or B) the powers that be elected to wipe this one away less because they felt Westbrook had gotten the short end of the stick than because the already injury-decimated Thunder would be all but drawing dead against the Blazers — who are dealing with their own injury issues, to be fair — in a game that has massive playoff implications for Oklahoma City.
The Thunder enter Monday in ninth place in the West, needing to finish one game ahead of the No. 8 New Orleans Pelicans, who own the head-to-head tiebreaker between the two teams, to earn a playoff berth. An Oklahoma City team without all of its top stars figures to have hardly any chance of prevailing over Portland; an Oklahoma City team with Westbrook at least has the puncher's chance that comes with suiting up as overwhelming a force of nature as Westbrook, who scored a career-high 54 points with nine assists in Sunday's losing effort.
Pelicans fans likely aren't too thrilled to hear that the league's disciplinarians decided to erase Westbrook's suspension-prompting technical. Those without a horse in the race for the West's No. 8 spot, however, have to be glad that we'll get to see the Thunder at as-full-strength-as-they-can-muster-at-this-point in what has now become its biggest game of the season, rather than having to enter a firefight without its biggest weapon due to a somewhat iffy heat-of-the-moment judgment.
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