That play brings us back to one of the topics that has been a major theme of the 2008-09 postseason: The elbow rule. And what we've learned is if you strike an opposing player above the shoulders with a malicious elbow, you're getting a one-game suspension.
Dwight Howard knows that rule now, because it's what kept him out of Game 6 of the first round. Kobe Bryant knows it, too, because the only reason he was playing in Friday's Lakers-Rockets game was because his flagrant elbow against Ron Artest struck Artest in the top of the chest, missing his neck by inches.
"Certainly in this case had he made contact in the head area, we'd be evaluating it on a different level," said NBA vice president of operations Stu Jackson of the Bryant elbow on Thursday. And in the rulebook as well as in practice, "the head area" is everything above shoulder level.
So if Stu sticks with his own precedents, it's going to be bad news for a Boston front line already undermanned and undersized, because Perkins, the C's starting center, is going to be watching Sunday's Game 4 from somewhere other than the Amway Arena.
Celtics Hub has a different evaluation:
So do you think he will be suspended? Should he be?
Matt Moore covered this nicely on Hardwood Paroxysm today. Flagrants that have sent guys to the hospital (or, ahem, bloodied up Brad Miller’s face before crucial foul shots) have not resulted in suspensions–because they were “plays on the ball” that didn’t look like unseemly attempts to injure someone. On the other hand, mean-looking elbow swings (hi, D12) that make minimal contact and silly-looking slaps that look bad or have bad intentions behind them–that’s where the league is coming down hard.
Perk’s flagrant doesn’t fall into the latter category, and Pietrus did not get hurt. Under the standards the league has set in the last two weeks, Perk doesn’t deserve a suspension. And just so we’re clear, the league’s elbow rules mandate an ejection for any elbow above the shoulder level, not a suspension. Suspensions are at the commish’s discretion in these cases.