NBA delays verdict on Utah's Sloan
The NBA left Jazz coach Jerry Sloan 's fate hanging before Saturday's game against New Orleans, announcing only that the investigation into Sloan's ejection and actions at the end of Friday's loss at Phoenix remains ongoing.
It was a departure from standard procedure for the league, which almost always takes disciplinary action against a player or coach before the next game on the schedule. As a result, Sloan still could face a possible fine and/or suspension.
Sloan said he talked Saturday with an NBA security official about the incident, which occurred with 0.2 seconds remaining. Sloan raised a forearm to the chest of referee Michael Smith and attempted to block or bump Smith with it.
"I guess everybody's a judge and jury in this situation, it sounds like," Sloan said. Although he charged after Friday's game that he and Smith have a history, Sloan declined to comment Saturday on any previous run-ins between them.
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor described things as "business as usual" for Saturday's game, adding, "As far as I'm concerned, it's a non-issue unless we hear something."
O'Connor was asked if he felt Sloan stayed within the bounds of acceptable behavior during his exchange with Smith. "I wouldn't have a comment on that," O'Connor said. "My question is what was the referee trying to get 6 inches from him for? I don't know."
The Jazz were uncertain whether the NBA failing to render judgment before Saturday's game made it more or less likely that Sloan would be disciplined. Earlier this month, Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich was suspended a game for bumping a referee.
Sloan twice has been suspended for shoving referees in his years as Jazz coach, serving a seven-game suspension for an incident involving Courtney Kirkland in a January 2003 game. He was suspended a game for shoving Bob Delaney in an April 1993 game.
The incident Friday started after Phoenix's Grant Hill fouled Ronnie Price as Price went up on a breakaway in the final seconds. With time having expired, the referees conducted a video review to determine how much time remained when Hill's foul occurred.
Sloan tried to approach the referees at the scorer's table but was blocked by arena security guards, backing one of them up before two others arrived. After the referees put 0.2 seconds back on the clock, Sloan and Smith had their exchange along the sideline.
Afterward, Sloan said he was upset not by the Hill foul but with Amare Stoudemire standing in front of the Jazz's bench following the play. Stoudemire said he headed onto the court to high-five his teammates thinking the game was over.
Andrei Kirilenko sat out for the fourth time in five games with a strained left calf while Mehmet Okur arrived at EnergySolutions Arena and was sent home with a stomach ailment. The Jazz started C.J. Miles and Kyrylo Fesenko as a result. Sloan said he went with Fesenko over Paul Millsap in the hopes of keeping Millsap out of foul trouble to finish Saturday's game.
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