Former Pitt star DeJuan Blair was just starting to make his mark in the NBA Playoffs. Unfortunately, a kick and ensuing suspension halted the impact he was making on the series.
Blair had been up and down in the series as his playing time fluctuated. But in Game 4 on Monday, the big man was having himself some kind of game. In only 16 minutes of action, he put together a double double (12 points and 11 rebounds) while picking up a couple of steals as the Mavericks fought back from what seemed to be an insurmountable 20-point lead in the third quarter.
Actually, a hostile act is in the league's rule book, in reference to Rule No. 13 -- Instant Replays, Section 1, a (4) in relation to replay triggers.
The rule book states that the officials can review the play if one player commits a hostile act against another player, resulting in the offending player being ejected from the game. An example would be when a player intentionally or recklessly harms or attempts to harm another player through the use of a punch, elbow, kick or blow to the head.
It remains to be seen if Blair will be given a suspension for the hostile act.
FWIW, Blair maintained it was accidental:
"It's real disappointing because with me in the game our momentum was going great and when that happened and that got me out of there, that was a big deal," said Blair, who said the kick was unintentional.
Here's the video so judge for yourself.
My initial thought is that it was reactionary as Blair later suggested. While it looked bad, it also looked like it could have been harder if Blair was really trying to do some damage. There was physical play just before it happened and just before the kick, Blair sort of swings his arm in what could be described as having shown some frustration for ending up on the floor. But at the end of the day, I find it hard to criticize the ejection simply because a guy was kicked in the face.
A suspension, though? I don't know that I'd have gone that far, but again - dude can't go kicking people in the head.
The frustrating thing was that Blair was having a great game and really could have helped as the team was trying to pull off the comeback. Equally upsetting was that the Mavericks lost Game 5 on Wednesday when Blair was sitting out. Tiago Splitter had himself a field day as the Spurs dominated the paint.
Not saying Dallas would have won if he could have played, but the kick was definitely costly as Blair was on a roll and proving his value.