Knicks' Chandler on LeBron play: 'I didn't think it was illegal at all'
In a chippy Game 1 of their first-round series, the Miami Heat beat the New York Knicks 100-67. But all anyone will remember is Tyson Chandler drilling LeBron James in the back with an illegal screen that was ruled a flagrant foul.
MIAMI -- Tyson Chandler's day began with the first solid food he's been able to keep down in a couple of days due to the stomach flu and ended with IV fluids and an interview with a pool reporter.
In the NBA, when you're being interviewed by a pool reporter, usually it isn't good.
For Chandler, the reasons were twofold. Yes, he was involved in the the kind of controversial play that typically results in an official postgame explanation being documented and distributed to the masses. Also, he was so dehydrated that he needed several rounds of fluids and wouldn't have been available to the media as a whole for four hours.
So other than the devastating injuries to the Bulls' Derrick Rose and the Knicks' Iman Shumpert, the only thing anyone will remember about Day 1 of the 2012 playoffs was Chandler putting his shoulder into LeBron James' back on a blind pick, resulting in a flagrant foul-penalty one.
"I thought it was a legal pick, honestly," Chandler said. "He didn't see me coming. I tried to set a pick for my guard to be able to come off and exploit it. I got a flagrant for it, but I didn't think it was illegal at all."
In fact, referee Gary Zielinski first ruled it a flagrant-two, which would have resulted in an automatic ejection. It was part overreaction and part procedural, since grade-one flagrants are not reviewable. By slapping Chandler with a flagrant-two, the officials were able to huddle and look at the replay, after which the offense was downgraded to a flagrant-one.
One could argue -- and Chandler did -- that it shouldn't have been a flagrant at all. Just a hard playoff foul with a little extra oomph behind it, along with the element of surprise.
"It was one of those hits that hurt, but I'm all right now," said James, who dominated the Knicks with 32 points in three quarters. "I played football, so I've been hit harder than that."
There are so many subplots heading into Game 2 Monday night. How do the Knicks bounce back froma 100-67 evisceration without their best defender, Shumpert? How does Carmelo Anthony adjust to the fronting in the post and double teams that confounded him and held him to 11 points in 3-for-15 shooting?
Also, how does the officiating crew maintain some semblance of order in a physical, chippy series that will only bring more of both without overreacting? In addition to Chandler's flagrant, there were three technical fouls assessed -- a double-tech to Udonis Haslem and Amar'e Stoudemire for some run-of-the-mill posturing, one on Anthony for throwing the ball at official Danny Crawford and another for Knicks coach Mike Woodson, essentially for asking for one.
Chances are, knowing these teams and their violent history, there will be more from whence those came.
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