Wade says elbow unintentional; Vogel glad he wasn't suspended

By Royce Young | NBA writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- Miami's Dwyane Wade avoided suspension for Sunday night's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals for his errant elbow to the head of Indiana's Lance Stephenson, and you know who was happy about that?

Well, Erik Spoelstra, Pat Riley, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade himself, and a lots of other Heat-inclinded people. Other than those, you know who was happy about it?

Pacers coach Frank Vogel.

"I don't think anybody, myself included, wants anybody on either team suspended from this series," Vogel said. "I think everybody wants to see both teams full strength slug it out. Myself included."

Wade, first available to the media on Sunday about 50 minutes before tipoff, said the play wasn't intentional.

"There was nothing malicious about it," Wade said. "If you're not there in the moment, it looks a little different."

Pacers forward Paul George saw it differently, saying at the Sunday morning shootaround the play was "uncalled for."

"It was an uncalled-for play," he said. "Whatever the league does about that situation, for what he did to Lance, it's well deserved whatever the punishment is."

The league's decision? After a review, it assessed Wade a retroactive Flagrant 1 foul. Basically, that's the league acknowledging the play wasn't completely OK but also saying it doesn't believe it was an intentional cheap shot.

"I wasn't worried because it wasn't intentional," Wade said. "The NBA did a great job of looking at it, and they gave it what they felt it deserved. Obviously, it wasn't a play that affected the game, and it wasn't intentional at all. All I was doing was trying to get out of the way of him coming to try to set a screen on me at halfcourt while I was trying to chase Paul George down and I jumped around him.

"It's an athletic game. It was an athletic move. Unfortunately, my arms went back, but you see it wasn't anything there, and I have no history of that kind of stuff."

What made the play more questionable than a typical elbow was that it was to Stephenson's head. All sports leagues are being very prudent with that and doing their best to protect players from head injuries.

"That should be a No. 1 red flag -- guys getting hit in the head," LeBron said. "That's in every sport. That's in our sport and football and baseball and hockey and so on. So I think we all should be protected with that. I think we all know that's what replay's for, to be able to look at certain plays that may be a little excessive and some plays that were basketball plays. I'm not the one that's sitting behind the camera or the guy that's making those calls. I just go out and play the game, and whatever comes with the game, I'm ready for."

 
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