Friday, March 23, 2012
Updated: March 24, 2:17 PM ET
Jason Smith suspended 2 games
ESPN.com news services
The NBA suspended New Orleans Hornets forward Jason Smith two games for his Thursday night body check on Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin.
Smith was ejected for the foul late in the league-owned Hornets' victory over the Clippers in Chris Paul's return to New Orleans. A suspension was widely expected Friday because Smith made no attempt to make a play on the ball in knocking Griffin to the floor on a transition drive to the hoop.
In announcing the suspension Friday, NBA executive Stu Jackson said Smith's foul during the late stages of the Hornets' victory on Thursday night involved "excessive contact with the upper body."
The play occured when Smith body-slammed Griffin to the floor on a fast break. Paul followed Smith into the concourse behind the basket and had words with him as several players jawed at each other.
"It was a terrible foul," Paul said after the game. "I don't know what Jason was thinking. He probably better be ready to sit out a game or two for that one. I'm just glad Blake controlled it."
Smith was assessed a flagrant 2 foul, which carries an automatic ejection, but left the court to a loud ovation.
"I deeply regret the incident that took place during the 4th quarter of our game vs. the Clippers on Thursday night. Not only do I want to express my sincere apology to Blake Griffin and the Clippers organization, but also to all basketball fans that might have the impression from seeing the play, that it's okay to go beyond playing aggressive and attempt to injure someone during the course of a game," Smith said in a statement Saturday.
Smith will miss the Hornets' home game with San Antonio on Saturday night and Monday night's rematch with the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Information from ESPN.com senior writer Marc Stein and The Associated Press was used in this report.