Blazers defeat Lakers 111-94 — Rudy Fernandez badly injured in flagrant foul by Trevor Ariza
The Portland Trail Blazers took care of business at home last night against the Los Angeles Lakers, winning a major Western Conference battle 111-94. However this victory paled when tempered with the events of the third quarter which saw Rudy Fernandez stretchered off the court by medical staff.
Let me start by emphasising that I don’t think Trevor Ariza intended to harm Fernandez when he committed the foul. It was a fast-paced incident and Ariza seemed to make a play at swatting the ball. Fernandez is a speedy, high-flying player and you don’t have much time to react to that type of opponent.
Despite the lack of intent to harm Rudy, the aftermath of the play was one of the most sickening I’ve witnessed in a while. Watching him appear to shake involunarily, left alone whilst the remainder of both teams were involved in a squabble in the corner of the court, sent shivvers down my spine.
On the play itself, you will see that Ariza (aka “Son of McClary”) appears to swat at the ball, collecting instead the Spaniard’s head and then following through to take out his arm. The result is that the Blazer’s body is twisted and he lands very heavily (despite his wiry frame) on his hip. What made matters worse on this play was that Fernandez was still on the upward flight of his approach on the basket, meaning he had momentum in a different direction to that which Ariza knocked him. Had he already reached the basket, the result may not have been so spectacularly awful.
Video of the incident — including scuffle between players afterwards
Things worth noting:
- Lamar Odom did indeed appear to enter the area of the court, despite being on the bench. It will be interesting to see if he is dealt with by the league in a similar way to the Suns players of Phoenix v San Antonio playoff lore.
- The team spirit of the Blazers was undeniable after the hard foul — watch the way captain Brandon Roy sticks up for his teammate.
- A “Flagrant two” was called against Ariza on the play — meaning an automatic ejection. Brett Pollakoff of Fanhouse argues fairly justifiably that the league will probably vary it down to a “Flagrant one”. “But is this really a flagrant two foul that should warrant an automatic ejection? No, no it’s not. And if the league is going to change something like Glen Davis’ obvious head-hunting attempt down to a flagrant one, we can probably expect the same thing regarding this unfortunate (but unintentional) play from Ariza.”
- Notice the way Ariza jaws off at Roy after they are separated? Hardly appropriate of a player that should be admitting he made a mistake and potentially horribly injured an opponent unnecessarily. Show a little more class and man up to your mistake boy.
The good news is that the injury to Fernandez likely will not be too severe. The latest updates on his condition are:
- Blazers Edge — UPDATE (10:45PM): From the team: Rudy suffered soft tissue injury to his right upper chest/side area. The CT scan was negative. Will be kept overnight at the hospital for observation. He is questionable for Wednesday. — Ben
OregonLive.com — [as above] Fernandez is listed as questionable for Wednesday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.
- via Yahoo! Sports — “Just the way it played out—it’s hard to watch your teammate over there laying down and they’re bringing out stretchers. That was a tough moment for all of us,” said Brandon Roy, who led the Blazers with 27 points.
- Bustabucket — “The real backbone came through with the game in hand late in the third quarter, when Trevor Ariza commited a dangerously hard foul from behind on Rudy Fernandez as he elevated on a fast break , a foul that left him writhing on the ground in pain and ultimately carted off on a stretcher. In a flash B-Roy was in Ariza’s face. An instant later, with Lakers swarming Roy, there was Outlaw and LA wading into the fray and covering his back. Make no mistake, we keep a tight locker room and when you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us.”
- via OregonLive.com — Words from Ariza after the game:
“First off, I want to say I hope Rudy’s all right. I was just trying to make a hard play to the ball. I hope he’s fine and my best wishes go out to him and his family.”
From your perspective, what happened on the play?
“I was just trying to go for the ball, trying to make a good play on the ball and unfortunately somebody got hurt.”
Surprised they called a Flagrant 2?
“A little. But that’s the referees’ decision. I’m just trying to play the game the right way, not give up anything easy.”
What did you think about the reaction from the Blazers?
“It’s expected. That’s one of their teammates. If it was one of my teammates, I would probably do the same thing, too. No hard feelings. It was just protecting a teammate.”
Put yourself in his position. You’re going down on a fast break and someone comes up behind and fouls you like that. How would you react?
“It happens. It’s basketball. Nobody’s trying to hurt anybody out here but things happen.”
Any concern that you’re going to get suspended?
“Honestly, there’s nothing I can do about that. I hope it doesn’t happen. I was just trying to go for the ball. I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody or do anything like that.”
What went on in the altercation by the team bench?
“Honestly, I don’t even remember. It was a heat-of-the-moment thing. I don’t remember what happened.”
Surprised the Blazers surrounded you like that?
“Like I said, that was one of their teammates. They’re a good, close team so that’s not surprising at all.”
Looking back, would you still have handled the play the same way?
“Yeah. Because it wasn’t anything I was trying to do. I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I was just trying to make a play for the ball. It wasn’t anything; I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I was just trying to make a play for the ball for my team.”
- via Yahoo! Sports — On the suggestion that Odom entered the court and on Ariza v Roy: “In the confusion there were some who said that Odom left the bench, although he denied it.
“I stood up, but I stood right there—I didn’t go nowhere,” he said.
Roy balked at Ariza’s reaction to the foul. “I tried to be cool-headed about it,” Roy said. “I was just going to go over there, but then he started bucking (over the foul) like, ‘What?’ I was just upset because my guy is laying there on the ground and he’s talking trash still. I was pretty upset about it.”