NBA upgrades foul on Pau Gasol
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Los Angeles Lakers avenged their second-round playoff loss to the Dallas Mavericks by winning 96-91 on Wednesday in their first game back at the American Airlines Center since being swept in May.
While the result of the game was different, things got physical on the court just like back in the postseason.
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With less than 30 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and the Lakers leading 93-91, Derek Fisher eluded a sideline trap by the Dallas defense and found an open Pau Gasol in the middle of the lane. Gasol went straight to the hoop and was met with Dallas center Brendan Haywood's right forearm to his face.
Haywood was called for a basic foul, rather than a flagrant 1 foul, which would have awarded the Lakers free throws and possession of the ball, or a flagrant 2, which would have resulted in Haywood's being ejected.
Haywood's foul was upgraded to a flagrant 2 on Thursday, according to NBA spokesman Tim Frank.
"I don't know Haywood and I'm not trying to get him in trouble but, for my definition of a flagrant, after reviewing it on the tape, I think the refs missed that," said Lakers coach Mike Brown before Thursday's game at Oklahoma City. "Because, I don't know how anybody can think that he was going for the ball. ... That definitely was not just a normal foul, a regular foul, at least after reviewing it on the tape."
The NBA defines a flagrant foul as unnecessary and/or excessive contact.
"I don't think it was intentional, I don't know, but that's not the definition of a flagrant," Brown said. "I think he was trying to foul Pau and he might be able to join Shaq in the, what is it, WWF Rumble 25 or something like that? Isn't Shaq going to be in that next one?"
Shaquille O'Neal, who played for Brown in Cleveland, was rumored to be participating in a World Wrestling Entertainment match last month.
When the Lakers lost to the Mavericks in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals back in May, Andrew Bynum was called for a flagrant 2 foul for a shot to the ribs of an airborne J.J. Barea. Lamar Odom was also called for a flagrant 2 foul for bodying up Dirk Nowitzki earlier in the fourth quarter of that game.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.