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Dwight Howard Flagrant Not Upgraded, Will Play Game 5

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Dwight Howard Flagrant Not Upgraded, Will Play Game 5:

There were some tense moments following Game 4 as Dwight Howard nervously awaited the outcome of whether his elbow  slap to Andrew Bogut‘s face would be upgraded to a Flagrant 2 today.

Tuesday night Rod Thorn, the President of Basketball Operations confirmed Howard’s Flagrant 1 would not be upgraded to a Flagrant 2. This is crucial for the Houston Rockets who have finally shed the curse of beating the Warriors and need to win out to take the series. If Thorn and his team had upgraded Howard’s flagrant he would have missed Game 5 since he already had accumulated 3 Flagrant foul points this post season, and it may have warranted him missing even more games.

What made the decision topical was the recent Flagrant 2 called on J.R. Smith in the Cavaliers vs. Celtics series and the Flagrant 2 called on Al Horford the night previous.  The difference in these cases was J.R. Smith was not being held, and he almost knocked out Jae Crowder. 

Al Horford’s intent was to elbow Matthew Dellavedova who has created his own story line this post season with how often he’s instigated player ejections or injuries. Notably Dellavedova was responsible for both Taj Gibson and Al Horford being ejected with Flagrant 2 calls.

.@ATLHawks' Al Horford got ejected for dropping a huge elbow on Matthew Dellavedova: http://t.co/DvFjFqTJPu https://t.co/qP6k3kbZQ9

— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) May 25, 2015

In both situations he was the instigator but walked away with just a technical foul. Though some pundits are saying he just plays with energy to make up for his lack of talent, one could argue the intensity with which he does play appears to be beyond what is required. In the Horford situation though Dellavedova was being pulled down it appeared (at least to this writer) that he took advantage of the moment to roll back further than necessary.

Further, I’m not sure it warranted more than a Flagrant 1 call and his absence in the game helped the Cavaliers pull off the Game 3 win. In the case of Gibson, Dellavedova scissor wrapped his legs around Gibson and his subsequent ejection was pivotal to the Bull’s loss who were already playing without the services of Pau Gasol.

Certainly moving forward the zebra’s will keep an eye on Dellavedova as he was also responsible for the injury to Kyle Korver that removed him from the playoffs and may require surgery to repair his ankle. It’s one thing to play with energy, it’s quite another to utilize those moments when diving for a loose ball to create additional contact, which in my opinion is exactly what he’s doing.

Isolating the Howard slap on Bogut, it’s clear that Bogut pushes Howard and continues to hold his arm, which is why Howard is trying to free himself. It’s likely that’s why the league chose not to penalize Howard further.

Still, moving forward Howard will need to play within himself and not make spur of the moment silly decisions. If another such incident occurs he won’t get the benefit of the doubt, so he needs to be very careful as surely the Warriors Bogut and Draymond Green will look to instigate something knowing Howard is now under the spot light.

Next: Video Break Down of Game 4

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