James Was Assessed Flagrant Foul
The league never released a memo to the media and before now it hadn't been reported, but I was just informed today that LeBron James was actually assessed a retroactive flagrant foul for the elbow he used to clock Andray Blatche in the chin in the first quarter of Game 1.
James popped Blatche as retaliation for a non-call earlier in the game, when James drove to the basket and Blatche hit him in the mouth. James rolled around on the ground after the hit. The next time they ran into each other, Blatche fouled James and as James lifted his arms to separate himself from Blatche, he added an extra blow to the chin.
James didn't receive any penalty during the game, but I was just told that he was given a flagrant foul prior to Game 2. James claimed that he didn't intentionally hit Blatche in the face but apparently the league wasn't buying it.
The news doesn't help the Wizards much, especially since they couldn't turn the flagrant into extra points in the critical first game of this series.
But for an update: This series has now had six technical fouls, three flagrant one penalty fouls, one flagrant two penalty foul, one ejection, a $25,000 fine for a "menacing gesture" by Stevenson and a hip-hop feud.
Wizards center Brendan Haywood has been the most chippy player in this playoffs, with one flagrant two foul, two technicals and an ejection. The other flagrants in this series belong to James, Anderson Varejao and Stevenson. James, Antawn Jamison, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Gilbert Arenas and Daniel Gibson have received the other technicals.
James was asked on Tuesday if he felt the league and officials had done a good job of keeping the series clean.
He said, "I'm not the guy to ask," he said. "I'm just an employee of the NBA, not the boss."
Joe Johnson Goes Off
I'm not sure if you guys were able to see the Atlanta Hawks beat the Boston Celtics, 97-92, on Monday night, but I hope it's clear to everybody by now that Joe Johnson is a stud. He's quietly made two all-star teams, but nobody seems to notice - not even the folks in Atlanta before that game.
He scored 20 of his 35 points in an amazing fourth quarter flourish. He drove past Ray Allen at will, split double-teams with ridiculous runners, spin moves and finger rolls. He outscored the Celtics by himself in the final period, 20-17, as the Hawks have surprisingly tied the Celtics at 2-2 in that best-of-seven series.
Having worked in Atlanta for six years and covering the Hawks for more than two, I can honestly say that from watching television in my hotel room, Philips Arena has never seemed so loud and energetic. I got hyped up myself.
Today, someone asked James what he thought of the performance by his friend, Johnson.
"Excellent," James said.
When the reporter said that it was sort of reminiscent of a certain 48-point game at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich., in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. James just looked at him like he was silly, then shook his head.
"He played a great game," James said.
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