INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — NBA officials decided Sunday that Dwyane Wade’s forearm shot to Lance Stephenson was a flagrant foul — just not enough of a shot to warrant a suspension.
The league issued its ruling shortly before the Heat were to face Indiana in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Neither Pacers coach Frank Vogel nor Heat coach Erik Spoelstra expected the league to hand down a suspension with a berth in the NBA Finals at stake. Wade explained to reporters before the game that he was not surprised by the decision.
“I wasn’t worried because it wasn’t intentional,” he said. “All I was trying to do was get out of the way of him trying to set a screen.”
Wade then cut off questions, saying he only wanted to talk about Game 3, which is Sunday night at Indiana. He will be in the starting lineup.
The play occurred in the fourth quarter of Indiana’s Game 2 victory when Stephenson was running down the court on a fast-break. Wade jumped into the air and hit Stephenson in the back of the head with his arm, knocking Stephenson to the floor. No foul was called on the play.
Spoelstra didn’t complain about the decision.
“We take it for what it is, we can’t control what the league decides,” he said. “We just have to move on.”
Before Wade spoke, LeBron James explained he believes the league needs to protect players from taking head shots — just like the NFL and NHL do.
But he backed his teammate.
“I think we all know that’s what replay is for,” James said.
Miami guard Mario Chalmers also will start after injuring his shoulder in both Games 1 and 2 in Miami.