It might not have been intentional, but that didn’t necessarily matter to Miami Heat forward Kevin Love when Memphis Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane went nuts Wednesday night.
So even after the Heat’s rout was completed, their fifth victory in seven games, Love still took a moment to gather his thoughts on the moment that left Bane with his first career ejection.
With 6:44 to play in what turned into the Heat’s 138-119 victory, Bane was charged with an offensive foul.
In this case, offensive was somewhat the operative word.
As the officiating staff indicated an initial willingness to continue play with a mere common foul on Bane, the Heat’s in-house video operations almost immediately showed a replay of Bane’s left forearm and elbow swinging directly into Love’s groin, with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and assistant Chris Quinn waving to both lead official Marc Davis and the video board.
On the televised replay, Heat analyst John Crotty referred to Bane’s shot to Love as being “to the lower-man region.”
Davis then began a video review that led to the upgrading of the action to a Flagrant 2 foul, which mandated immediate ejection.
After his review, Davis announced, “Upon review, this foul has been determined to be a flagrant foul, penalty two, for the unnecessary contact to the groin of Kevin Love. Bane will be ejected.”
By NBA definition, a Flagrant 2 foul is “Unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent.”
Yes, Love said afterward, unnecessary and excessive felt about right — or, actually, wrong.
“Yeah, I mean there’s only been a few times in my 15, almost 15, years where something like that has happened,” Love said. “And Bane, he’s a big boy. But I tried to hedge out, show on a screen. I don’t know if he was looking for a foul or what it was. But just got put in a bad position and took it in the groin pretty good.”
Love paused, then continued.
“And all the men here, you’ve been hit hard enough where your back starts hurting, that’s where I was,” he said, “and it started to spasm a little bit.”
Love quickly was back up to speed in the game, closing with 10 points and six rebounds in his 18:16.
With Kyle Lowry completing his first week back from a month-long absence due to knee pain, and with the NBA’s most-injured roster back to relative health, guard Victor Oladipo was the odd man out Wednesday night, the first time this season he has been held out due to coach’s decision.
That move came after Spoelstra held guard Max Strus out of the second half of Monday night’s home victory over the Utah Jazz, with Duncan Robinson previously shuffled out of the mix.
According to the tracking at SpoTrac, the Heat lead the NBA in player-games missed this season, at 268, with the Golden State Warriors second at 241.
“How it played out [Wednesday] night is not necessarily what I had on my card,” Spoelstra said. “And the first guy I talked to was Vic, obviously. We have not been in a situation for three or four months where we’ve had everybody available. I had every intention to play him in that first quarter. The last game, it was Max who had to sacrifice in the second half. Tonight, it was Vic. I don’t have that answer right now, but I do have empathy for him.
“I have a couple of days to figure it out before Saturday [in Chicago]. But this is a good luxury to have, where you have everybody available, and we have this depth, and we have a lot of different weapons and the versatility. But there’s also the human side of it, that you can’t play everybody and I fully understand that.”
With Wednesday night’s victory, the Heat improved to 28-10 this season when scoring 110 or more and 14-5 when scoring 115 or more. They also improved to 12-3 when shooting 50% or better from the field . . . Wednesday was only the sixth time in the Heat’s 38 victories they won by double digits.
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