Andrew Bynum doesn't believe he'll be suspended for ejection in Lakers' 106-98 victory over Minnesota Timberwolves
Holding his cellphone by his ear, Lakers center Andrew Bynum made it clear he was in no mood to talk.
That's because the Lakers' 106-98 victory Friday over the Minnesota Timberwolves reflected plenty of ugly moments beyond the team's poor performance, an effort that gave them a one-game lead for second place in the Western Conference over the Dallas Mavericks (48-21), who lost Friday against San Antonio (55-13). But the Lakers were far from jubilant afterward.
Bynum was ejected with 6:16 left in the game after leveling Minnesota forward Michael Beasley with his right forearm, a sequence that knocked the Wolves' player to the ground, earned him a flagrant foul 2, and sparked plenty of emotions. Beasley exchanged words with Bynum and Lakers forward Matt Barnes before being given a technical foul. Bynum promptly left the court. And the 18,897 at Staples Center booed loudly, seemingly at the officials, Beasley and the Lakers' play itself.
Bynum shook his head "no" when asked for comment while he walked down a Staples Center hallway after sneaking out a side door. When asked if he thinks his flagrant foul 2 will prompt the NBA to suspend him, he said, "No." The rest of the Lakers shared the same sentiment, with Kobe Bryant saying, "No, why would I?" when asked if he's concerned the NBA will suspend Bynum. "Sometimes it's necessary." Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said "yes" on whether Bynum's ejection was warranted and "no" on whether it would earn him a suspension. And Lakers forward Pau Gasol summed up, "I don't think he should and I don't think he will."
The Lakers won't know for sure whether the NBA will suspend Bynum for Sunday's game against Portland until Saturday. The league office, according to NBA rules, will consider the following factors in determining whether to classify a foul flagrant 1 or 2, reclassify the flagrant foul and impose a fine and/or suspension: "how hard the foul was; the outcome of the foul (e.g., whether it led to an altercation); and the level of the injury sustained by the player who was fouled." The NBA also defines a flagrant 2 as "unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent."
The Lakers were unanimous in arguing that Bynum shouldn't be suspended. But their interpretations of the play that led to Bynum's ejection differed.
"He committed a hard foul," Bryant said. "He did what a good guy is supposed to do. Protect the paint. That's what he did."
"It was a little bit of frustration because we didn't play well throughout the play," Gasol said. "It was a random play and drive to the basket. He got him a little low. He fell awkward. He could've gotten hurt or not. Hopefully not. That's it. I didn't think it got incredibly chippy out there."
Meanwhile, Jackson appeared split on Bynum's foul.
"I thought he must have been [frustrated]," said Jackson, who remarked Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki did something similar against Lakers guard Shannon Brown in the Lakers' game Saturday against Dallas. "Either that, or he was going to go block the shot late. He just bumped him and gave up on the block and he didn't try for the ball ... Andrew's looked bad and the kid fell hard."
The Lakers have had other incidents involving Beasley this season, mostly revolving around Lakers forward Ron Artest. He questioned Beasley's basketball intelligence in an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press in late November, saying "Beasley should watch [Miami's] LeBron James. Beasley's actually a better shooter than LeBron, but the smarts are not there. He's talking so much trash instead of worrying about the game. He needs to become a winner.... He's so athletic and quick and strong," Artest said. "But eventually somebody's going to catch on to it." That prompted Beasley to say, "The reason I do the same thing is because they can't stop it. As soon as they stop it, I'll do something else."
The two certainly displayed their chippiness throughout the game. When Beasley air-balled a three-pointer, Artest joined with the crowd in yelling "air-ball!" The two continued jawing throughout the contest, with Artest getting called for a technical foul with 1:20 left in the second quarter.
"I thought Ron got a little out of character there," Jackson said. "We had a talk at halftime. He got back in and played the second half in character again. There were some disrespectful things that were going on out there that will happen sometimes. It upset Ron a little bit. But ultimately he got back and did the job defensively that we wanted to see done."
The same didn't apply to Bynum, whose 10 points and 14 rebounds marked his fifth consecutive double-double. Toward the end of the news conference, Jackson defined Bynum's foul as a "frustrated play."
"He got fouled, didn't get fouled, whatever happened on the play before was a frustrating play," Jackson said. "The league will look at it."
Top photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum is ejected for a flagrant foul on Minnesota forward Michael Beasley during the second half of the Lakers' 106-98 victory Friday at Staples Center. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times
Bottom photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum tries to put up a shot while being guarded by center Darko Milicic and guard Wes Johnson during the first half of the Lakers' 106-98 victory Friday at Staples Center. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times