Discipline from the Lakers-Pistons melee has come down.
The NBA suspended star Lakers forward LeBron James for one game for “recklessly hitting” Pistons center Isaiah Stewart on Sunday night that left his face bloodied and required eight stitches. Stewart will be suspended two games for “escalating an on-court altercation by repeatedly and aggressively pursuing” James in an unsportsmanlike manner.
The NBA announced the suspensions Monday afternoon.
Stewart will serve his suspensions Tuesday and Wednesday, James will serve his on Tuesday.
The play happened with 9:18 left to play in the third quarter off of a free throw attempt, with both James and Stewart boxing each other out for positioning as Pistons forward Jerami Grant sank a free throw. James whipped his left forearm away from his body and his closed fist caught Stewart on the right side of his face, opening a gash above his right eye.
James appeared to be remorseful in the moments right after the elbow and extended his arm out to Stewart, who was knocked down by the blow. After Stewart got up, he confronted James, leading to multiple players, coaches, support staff and officials getting in the way to separate the two.
Stewart, at times, had to be restrained by up to five and six people and often broke free from them to charge toward James. Stewart eventually bowled over some support staff, knocking them down to the court. Coach Dwane Casey and rookie Cade Cunningham were among the Pistons who stepped in to restrain Stewart, who had blood streaming down his cheeks.
James drew a flagrant foul 2 for the elbow, which resulted in an automatic ejection from the game. It marked only the second time in his 19 seasons that James had been ejected from a game. Stewart drew multiple technical fouls after it took almost two minutes to get him off of the court. Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook was also issued a technical foul.
Referee Scott Foster explained that James’ foul was due to “unnecessary and excessive contact above the shoulder,” while Stewrat’s technicals were for “multiple unsportsmanlike acts” after the play occurred.
The Lakers battled back from a 17-point deficit to beat Detroit, 121-116.
“His eye got cracked all the way open,” Casey said of Stewart after the game. “He was upset for a reason. I don’t think that James is a dirty player but it got (the Lakers) going, instead of continuing the momentum that we had.”
The Lakers will face the New York Knicks Tuesday night, while the Pistons will face two of the toughest teams in the Eastern Conference in the Miami Heat (Tuesday) and Milwaukee Bucks (Wednesday).
The next time these the Lakers and Pistons face off will be in less than a week, on Nov. 28 in Los Angeles.
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