Nowitzki, Mavs await NBA discipline

Updated: December 28, 2008, 12:53 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

The Dallas Mavericks won't know until Sunday morning if Dirk Nowitzki can play in their afternoon road game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The league office on Saturday began reviewing Nowitzki's flagrant foul/penalty 2 on Utah's Matt Harpring from Friday night, which resulted in Nowitzki's ejection early in the fourth quarter of Dallas' 97-88 defeat.

As of Saturday night, no ruling on whether Nowitzki will receive a suspension or fine had yet been made, according to league spokesman Tim Frank.

The Mavericks will be hoping that the fact Nowitzki was immediately ejected from a typically physical game with the Jazz will spare him further punishment beyond a fine. Yet a similar incident involving Boston's Kevin Garnett and Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut in November resulted in a one-game suspension for Garnett.

In explaining Garnett's one-game ban, NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson told ESPN.com on Nov. 18 that league rules make a suspension automatic "when a player swings or punches with a fist or open hand, regardless if it makes contact or not."

Nowitzki was ejected for swinging his arm in response to under-the-basket contact from Harpring, with video replays indicating that -- although it was a backhanded swipe -- Nowitzki made a closed-fist connection with Harpring's face on his follow-through.

If Nowitzki cannot avoid a suspension for Sunday's game, it'll be the second successive season that he's been suspended after an incident in Utah. A rough takedown in March of Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko -- for which Nowitzki was not ejected -- resulted in a one-game suspension.

A one-game suspension this season would cost him 1/110th of his $18,077,904 salary, which comes to $164,344.58.

Nowitzki did not speak to the media Friday after the game and declined comment when reached Saturday. But team officials confirmed that their star player was interviewed Saturday by league officials for his account, since every flagrant foul/penalty 2 is reviewed by Jackson's office.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle told reporters in Salt Lake City on Friday: "It appeared to me to be accidental, but they said his fist was closed, so it was an automatic flagrant two. They went to the video. I said it wasn't intentional. They said it didn't matter. ... I don't think the intent was to strike Harpring in the face. Dirk doesn't have any pattern of that type of stuff. It was a microcosm of the night, really."

Complaints about Utah's physical play, especially at home, are nothing new.

Harpring, however, insisted that Nowitzki "just turned around and threw a nice little punch."

Said Utah forward Kyrylo Fesenko, whose offensive rebound over Nowitzki preceded Nowitzki's tangle with Harpring: "I get the rebound. I maybe push him in the back a little. Then probably Matt pushed him a little. I don't think it was something really brutal. It happens all the time."

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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