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Artest not suspended for Game 4, foul downgraded


Posted May 9 2009 8:28PM

HOUSTON (AP) -- The NBA downgraded a flagrant foul called against Ron Artest, determining Saturday that the play should not have been severe enough to warrant an ejection.

Artest was whistled for a flagrant foul penalty two, an automatic ejection, for his hard foul on Pau Gasol late in the Lakers' 108-94 victory over Houston on Friday in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

"It happened so fast. It's a bang-bang play. Nowadays, in our league, that's cause for a flagrant foul," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "The referees told me that he hit him in the head. But it was such a bang-bang play, I just didn't think there was any intention of hurting him or anything. They just reacted to the play, Gasol went down hard. I think [downgrading] it was a good call."

League spokesman Tim Frank confirmed Saturday the foul was downgraded. Artest will not face a suspension for Game 4 on Sunday.

"I think that they made more of that than it was. I didn't think that was a flagrant two," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "It looked to me like it was a hard foul. There's a danger point right there where Pau goes down, and then I think they have to worry about it a little bit. But as far as malicious contact, I have to disagree. I think they overreacted a little bit on that."

Artest also had a point removed from his flagrant foul total. Players are suspended a game if they accumulate four flagrant foul points in the postseason.

"It don't mean nothing to me," Artest said of the league's decision. "It's not important. It doesn't matter to me."

The temperamental Artest was also thrown out of Game 2 in Los Angeles after a verbal confrontation with Kobe Bryant. Artest claimed that Bryant elbowed him in the neck, a blow that wasn't called by the officials.

The Lakers have a 2-1 lead in the series.

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