Odom's actions to get second look
NEW YORK -- NBA vice president Stu Jackson decided Tuesday that Lakers forward Trevor Ariza would not be penalized further for his hard foul against Trail Blazers guard Rudy Fernandez, but the league was still taking a long look at whether Lamar Odom's actions merited a suspension under the "leaving the bench" rule.
"We're reviewing it," league spokesman Tim Frank said of Monday night's Lakers-Blazers scrum, which happened after Ariza knocked Fernandez off-balance with a hard foul on a breakaway late in the third quarter, and Fernandez was carried off on a stretcher and hospitalized overnight.
Fernandez is expected to be released from the hospital sometime Tuesday afternoon.
Ariza was ejected, which is automatic for a flagrant 2-category foul. But Ariza would not receive any other penalty, Frank said.
Jackson and his staff were still reviewing the post-foul scrum, however, to determine if anyone leaving the bench during the altercation would receive an automatic one-game suspension.
No punches were thrown, and the fracas was rather mild by historical standards, but Portland's Brandon Roy appeared to grab at or shove Ariza before turning his attention to Odom, who appeared to come off the Lakers bench and walk approximately 15 feet toward the fray.
"I stood up, but I stood right there -- I didn't go nowhere," Odom said.
Nearby, Portland's Travis Outlaw appeared to bump or shove the Lakers' Josh Powell. The fracas lasted only a few seconds, and order was restored quickly enough for the officials to review the play on the courtside monitor while Fernandez was being tended to by medical personnel.
"I was just trying to go for the ball and make a good play, and unfortunately somebody got hurt," Ariza said. "I'm just trying to play the game the right way -- trying to give them nothing easy."
Lead official Dick Bavetta upheld the flagrant 2 foul against Ariza, who appeared to be going for the ball when he swiped at Fernandez on a breakaway with the Lakers trailing by 28 points with 2.2 seconds left in the third quarter.
Ariza caught enough of Fernandez's arm to knock him off-balance, and Fernandez landed hard on his left hip and appeared to have the wind knocked out of him. The game was delayed nearly 10 minutes before Fernandez was wheeled off on a stretcher.
Fernandez was conscious and alert when he left the court, and he had full movement of his extremities, the team said. X-rays and a CT scan were negative, but Fernandez remained at the hospital overnight with a "soft tissue injury to his right upper chest/side area."
"It was weird. We were winning by a lot of points, everybody was playing well ... actually it was clear that Ariza was going to hit him, because he had had a couple of turnovers. He was after him to hit him, but not to hurt him. Even Ariza was scared about what he had done," Blazers guard Sergio Rodriguez said, according to the Spanish Web site Marca.com.
Rodriguez, who is also from Spain and one of Fernandez's closest friends, spent the night at the hospital.
"He couldn't breathe, and that scared himself, but he was OK," Rodriguez said.
The two watched the game at the hospital because Fernandez wanted to see what happened after he left. Fernandez was in good spirits.
"He couldn't laugh a lot because it hurt," Rodriguez said.
Fernandez, who played on Spain's silver medal-winning Olympic team, is averaging 10.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists this season.
Known for his no-look passes, alley-oop dunks and behind-back-dribbles, fans at the Rose Garden often chant "Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!" when he enters a game. Some female fans have taken to wearing "I [heart] Rudy" T-shirts.
There was no indication from the NBA whether the matter of additional suspensions or fines would be addressed Tuesday or Wednesday. The Lakers' next game is Wednesday night in Houston, and the Trail Blazers' next game is at home the same night against Dallas.
At the Blazers' practice facility Tuesday in Tualatin, coach Nate McMillan would not comment on the NBA's decision not to penalize Ariza further.
"That's a dangerous play," he said. "That's all I'm going to say."
Chris Sheridan is an NBA writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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