Mavs Tyson Avoids Suspension For 'Punch'

DALLAS - NBA sources tell me the Mavs have been informed that Tyson Chandler's 'punch' in Game 4 will not earn him a suspension and that he will be allowed to play in Tuesday's Game 5 at Houston.

The Dallas Mavericks are in need of some breaks in this first-round series as they trail Houston 0-3. They also are in need of some "physicality'' as an answer to coach Rick Carlisle's railing against Dwight Howard's bullying play, a complaint that earned Carlisle a $25,000 fine after Game 3.

But now it's Rockets fans who may wish to gripe as the NBA is deciding that a physical exchange between Howard and Tyson Chandler that included wrestling and maybe even a clenched fist thrown by TY will go unpunished, NBA sources tell me.

It was late in Dallas' Game 4 win Sunday when Chandler retaliated to Dwight's arm-linking by whipping his balled fist towards Howard's back. The officials called a double technical, but the replay clearly shows that Chandler reared back with a closed fist and threw a punch at Howard.

According to the NBA rules, "Any player who throws a punch, whether it connects or not, has committed an unsportsmanlike act. He will be ejected immediately and suspended for a minimum of one game.''

Were there extenuating circumstances here? Is the league looking at TY's action as part of a bigger picture that includes some acknowledgement that Carlisle's complaints were justified? Would Rockets fans be justified in believing Chandler's availability for Game 5 on Tuesday in Houston is fueled in part by a desire to keep the already-undermanned Mavs alive? Are Mavs fans justified in arguing that maybe Dwight's arm-bar swing was punch-like? If you look at film closely enough, can you find lots of these exchanges (Josh Smith vs. Richard Jefferson among them)?

Chandler had a game-high 14 rebounds Sunday as the Mavericks outrebounded the Rockets 52-38. That was a flip from Game 3, when Howard grabbed 26 rebounds by himself, including 11 on the offensive end. The Mavs were able to do their talking on the floor rather than in the presser ...


So these two will be allowed to fight another day ... maybe literally "allowed'' and maybe literally right on the edge of "fight.''

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