You’ve seen the play by now. Clearly an intentional elbow from Dwight Howard, and he was punished with a flagrant 1 call.

Here’s the problem — that was a flagrant 2. We just saw it called as a flagrant 2 the night before.

The NBA has a really tough call to make here. A flagrant 2 was (and still is) the correct call, but it needed to be made when the incident occurred. It’s too late to decide to switch the call now because of what it would mean for the Rockets.

Dwight waited with the fans in the arena during the storm going on after the game, which was cool of him, but hopefully he's not watching Game 5 with them from the sidelines.
Dwight waited with the fans in the arena during the storm going on after the game, which was cool of him, but hopefully he’s not watching Game 5 with them from the sidelines.

Here’s why: A flagrant 2 call made at the time of the elbow would have meant Howard would be tossed from the game (like Horford was for Atlanta). Obviously not good for the Rockets, but there’s a really good chance that they still hold on and win Game 4. But since Howard wasn’t ejected, if the NBA chooses to upgrade the call from a flagrant 1 to a 2, then Howard is suspended for Game 5 (because he would have more than three flagrant foul points in the playoffs) — a much more costly price for Houston, who clearly need Dwight to even have a shot at stealing one in Oakland.

For that reason, even though the right call is a flagrant 2, it’s just too late to switch that call and make the Rockets pay an even steeper price than they should have (with their backs already against the wall).

Al Horford is shaking his head somewhere, but you’ve got to just let this one slide, NBA. It’s the right call to let the wrong call stand.

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