Daily Debate: Lakers-Rockets suspensions?
You can cut the suspensions, er, suspense with a knife.
Or is that stab a man in the heart with a table leg?
Either way, NBA disciplinarian-in-grief Stu Jackson probably didn't sleep well last night. While attending the Lakers-Rockets game in the second round of the NBA playoffs, he got to see a better fight than last month's Silva-Leites debacle. Despite two separate ejections and five technicals, it was the only game in the series without anybody bleeding profusely from the head. No, Derek Fisher's cut doesn't count -- I said profusely.
Granted, it was only Game 2. The series will now head back to the state of Texas, where they might know a little about bravado and vigilante justice. We know Friday's game in Houston won't start off like the recent Ducks-Sharks clincher, but we don't know if everybody will be suited up. Jackson has to debate the fate of several key players. So can you ...
Why he should be suspended: It's never the initial foul but the reaction. Houston's Luis Scola fouled Lamar Odom, who said his piece and walked away. Then the Lakers' Luke Walton added a few words, and Scola added a few more. Things should have cooled off when referees separated everybody, but on the next play Fisher delivered a shiver to Scola's dome. On the slow motion replay, you can see Fisher raise his arm and launch his entire body into the attack. The Lakers veteran should have known better, and he should know he'll be sitting Friday.
Why he shouldn't be suspended: Scola was already causing trouble when he ran at Fisher from behind. Slow motion sometimes distorts reality, and Fisher might have been trying to defend himself to some degree. Though Fisher admitted that he was expecting to dish out a "good, hard foul" on a screen, he also said he had no intent to injure or hurt anybody.
Why he should be suspended: Basketball is a contact sport, but there shouldn't be any contact above the shoulders. An elbow to the neck? Not cool. And what about that elbow (and knee) to Shane Battier a couple days earlier? He might be biased as the victim, but it's bad when even Ron Artest thinks you should be suspended. Houston's troublemaker claims this is far from the first illegal contact Kobe has made this series.
Why he shouldn't be suspended: Do you really think it's worth suspending the league's biggest draw for a little bump 'n grind? Artest was coming over Bryant's back, and the Lakers star was just making a routine basketball play.
Why he should be suspended: Besides initiating the incident with Kobe by coming over his back, Artest made a scene -- and a long one, at that. He ran across the court to argue with officials. He ran back to get in Kobe's face. Then, he made contact with Kobe. Big no-no. He also seemed to drag his feet while leaving the court.
Why he shouldn't be suspended: The contact with Kobe was incidental and insignificant. The fact that he's communicating with words, not fists, is actually a positive step with Artest. And there is that little mater that he was reacting to a hard foul. Sound easy? You try to smile after getting decked in the neck. Even Kobe said that Artest shouldn't be suspended.
They're off the ballot, but Scola and Von Wafer weren't good citizens on Wednesday. Scola started this whole mess with a foul on Odom, and Wafer was ejected from the game by his own coach. Oh, to be a fly on that wall ...
-- Adam Rose
Top photo: Lakers Sasha Vujacic and Rockets Luis Scola have to be separated by a
referee. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Middle photo: Rockets Luis Scola holds his head after a technical foul on Derek
Fisher. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Bottom photo: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Houston Rockets forward Ron Artest exchange words. Credit: Chris Carlson / Associated Press