The NBA on Friday suspended Miami Heat backup center Chris Andersen for Saturday’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at Indiana following a Game 5 incident with Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough.
In the second quarter of the Heat’s 90-79 win Thursday, Andersen hit Hansbrough hard with his shoulder and then gave him a rough shove. He was whistled for a flagrant foul 1. The NBA upgraded that Friday to a flagrant 2, which would have meant an ejection. And a technical that had been called on Hansbrough was rescinded.
It became apparent Andersen would be suspended when NBA Commissioner David Stern severely criticized his actions earlier Friday on NBC Radio.
“I do think he should have been ejected,’’ Stern said. “I looked at the replays and, it seems to me, there was no immediate push or shove of him, he just hauled off and knocked down Tyler Hansbrough. I don’t know what he was doing. And then he pushed him. And then he did not go gracefully to the bench.”
Andersen has been a key reserve for the Heat. He’s made 18 consecutive field goals in the postseason and has shot 21 of 22 in seven regular-season and playoff games against Indiana.
The Heat lead the series 3-2 but have had plenty of problems with Indiana’s big frontline. Without Andersen, the Heat figure to turn to deep reserve center Joel Anthony for increased minutes.
Andersen was not available for comment either after Thursday’s game or following practice Friday. Hansbrough had said after Game 5 he was mystified by Andersen’s actions.
“I didn’t think it was a basketball play,’’ Hansbrough said. “I usually don’t talk. I don’t think he was saying anything before. It just came out of the blue, and I was caught off guard.’’
The suspension will cost Andersen $12,292. That’s equivalent of one game check for Andersen, making a prorated minimum salary of $1,352,181.
It’s the second straight year Miami has been undermanned inside in a Game 6 at Indiana. The Heat last year had forward Udonis Haslem and center Dexter Pittman both suspended for Game 6 of an East semifinal. However, they were able to win 105-93 to claim the series, 4-2.
Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra, who had said earlier Friday that whatever happened to Andersen was out of the Heat’s hands, was not immediately available for comment after the suspension was announced. Because suspended players cannot be replaced, Miami only will be able to activate 12 players for Saturday’s game.