Foul costs Josh McRoberts $20K
MIAMI -- Charlotte Bobcats forward Josh McRoberts was fined $20,000 by the NBA on Thursday for making excessive contact with his foul on LeBron James late in the Miami Heat's victory in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
McRoberts struck James with a forearm to the neck when the two collided in the lane with 50 seconds left in the Heat's 101-97 win on Wednesday to take a 2-0 lead in the series. The blow knocked James to the court and he spent several seconds rubbing his neck before returning to his feet.
The play was ruled a common foul by officials during the game, but was upgraded to a Flagrant 2 excessive contact penalty after the league reviewed the play Thursday. McRoberts was not suspended by the league for Game 3 on Saturday.
Immediately after the game, McRoberts said he did not intentionally try to hit James above the shoulders, but that the force of the two players colliding in the lane made matters look worse than they appeared. Replays showed that McRoberts extended his elbow toward James' neck as he tried to convert a layup at the rim.
"We just kind of got caught up in the air there," McRoberts said Wednesday night. "For me, real time, he was coming pretty fast down the lane. He's a real strong guy and I was just trying to stop him from first getting the shot up. It looked worse than it was."
James said he believed he was "attacked in the lane" by McRoberts on the play, which came with the Heat leading 97-94 in the final minute. James made one of two free throws to extend the Heat's lead to four. Charlotte later cut the deficit to one, but James then made two free throws with 10.3 seconds left to help secure the victory.
James, who finished with a game-high 32 points, said he was still dealing with soreness around his neck after the game and repeatedly cleared his throat as he spoke to reporters.
"I got elbowed in the throat ... it's not a very good feeling, especially how I was attacked in the lane and the contact that happened," James said. "I was trying to catch my breath, and hopefully it wasn't too bad. I had to finish the game. All I was thinking was how I was going to make the free throws, because it was a close game at that point."
James has complained at times during the season about how he felt players got away with excessive contact against him when he drives to the basket. During a Feb. 20 win at Oklahoma City, James broke his nose when he drove to the basket and was struck by Thunder forward Serge Ibaka. That play was also ruled a common foul during the game, and the league took no further action.
"I don't need to see it again," James said after Wednesday's game. "The important thing is that we won the game."
James ranked among the league's leaders in free-throw attempts this season and has taken 22 foul shots through two playoff games against the Bobcats, more than twice as many as any Charlotte player in the series.
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