The NBA on Friday night suspended Heat center Chris Andersen for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, hours after commissioner David Stern said he should have been tossed for his flagrant foul against Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough in Game 5.
“He should have been ejected,” Stern told NBC Radio. “I don’t know what he was doing. A serious review of his activities is called for.”
While both players were running down the court in the second quarter, Andersen delivered a hard bump with his shoulder, sending Hansbrough to the ground.
When Hansbrough got up, Andersen walked over to confront him and the two players bumped chests. Andersen then shoved Hansbrough in the chest.
The NBA said Andersen “knocked Hansbrough to the floor, escalated the altercation by shoving Hansbrough and resisted efforts to bring the altercation to an end.”
Besides giving Andersen an unpaid one-game suspension, the league upgraded the foul from a flagrant 1 to a flagrant 2.
Andersen did not speak to reporters Friday, but TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal suspects that Andersen mistakenly believed Hansbrough was the one who lightly shoved him in the back on the previous sequence when players were jostling for rebound positioning. It was actually Paul George who shoved Andersen.
Hansbrough declined to say whether Andersen should face discipline.
“I was caught off guard,” Hansbrough said. “I don’t know why he did it. It wasn’t a basketball play in my eyes.”
Asked if he contacted the league about the play, Pacers coach Frank Vogel declined to comment Friday.
“I did look at the tape, and I have no thoughts I’m willing to share with the media,” he said.
Without Andersen, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra could use Joel Anthony some at backup center, or he could make more use of a smaller lineup, with Udonis Haslem shifting to center when Chris Bosh is resting, and have Shane Battier or LeBron James play more minutes at power forward.
Andersen is averaging 7.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 18 minutes in this series and has made all 15 of his shots from the field.
As for the other notable confrontation in Game 5, Pacers forward David West said he yelled at Mario Chalmers in the third quarter because Chalmers hit him in the back.
Haslem then exchanged words with West. All three received technical fouls.
“I got cheap-shotted,” West said. “[Chalmers] gave me a shot in my back.”
Said Haslem: “I was just protecting my point guard.”
“We’re not going to let anyone talk down to our point guard,” he said. “He’s one of the smallest guys on the team.”• Even down 3-2 in the series, Vogel said Friday: “There’s a reason I’m confident. It’s not just false talk. The intelligence [that Indiana’s coaching staff] brings to the table combined with the talent we have on this team gives me real confidence in this team. …
“We know we have to play great to beat this team. We’re confident that we can. … We just have such respect for their team and for LeBron in particular that the greater the challenge, the more fun it is.”• James said he had no issue with Pacers guard Lance Stephenson running his mouth while defending him.
“Lance is one of those guys who likes to talk some,” James said. “And I’m for it, too. I really don’t start it, but if it gets started, then I love to do it. … There’s no way you can get under my skin.”
Vogel said Stephenson “doesn’t typically cross the line with his trash-talking. As long as he’s not doing that, I like him playing with an edge.”• James, Spoelstra and others praised Juwan Howard for his impassioned speech at halftime of Game 5.
“The credibility he has resonates with our guys,” Spoelstra said.• After outscoring the Pacers 16-13 in the third quarter of Game 5, James has now outscored an opponent in a quarter of a playoff game five times in his career, all since 2007. Since then, no other player has done it more than twice.
In moving past Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor into 13th place on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list, James also produced at least 30 points and eight rebounds in a playoff game for the 38th time, most in the league since his first playoff appearance in 2004.
Second-most during that time? Dirk Nowitzki with 20.• Pacers point guard George Hill, who went 0 for 4 and scored one point in Game 5: “The way I played … I am ashamed of myself.”
• James disputed the notion that the Pacers — facing elimination in Game 6 — will be the more desperate team.
“We’re desperate, too,” he said. “We’re desperate to get back to the NBA Finals.”