Lance Stephenson was the best player on the floor for the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night. The Pacers ended up losing the game, however, and now Stephenson has been fined $5,000 for a flop.
The league announced the punishment on its NBA Official Twitter account Wednesday:
IND's Stephenson fined $5K for violating league's anti-flopping rules vs. Heat in Game 2 of ECF on May 20. Video at: http://t.co/IFG063Xjid— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) May 21, 2014
Stephenson was tracking back on defense against LeBron James late in the third quarter when the play in question happened. James slowed his dribble in an attempt to shake him, and at the first sign of contact, the guard tried to put on his best acting display.
It didn't go well, and the league, in its continued effort to remove the blatant attempts to steal an offensive foul call, fined him for the flop.
Some of the decisions when it comes to taking a dive are debatable. This one was pretty straightforward, and the fine shouldn't come as a surprise.
Trey Kerby of NBA TV considered it an expensive nap after Stephenson decided to lay on the court after failing to get the call:
Lance Stephenson took a $5,000 nap. #bornsleepy— Taco Trey Kerby (@treykerby) May 21, 2014
The flop was the low point of an otherwise strong performance from the 23-year-old Cincinnati product. He scored 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting from field while also chipping in seven assists and six rebounds in 44 minutes.
Zak Keefer of The Indianapolis Star passed along praise from head coach Frank Vogel:
Vogel on Lance: "Spectacular. No other way to put it. He was either making a big shot or a big play for us seemingly the whole 3rd quarter."— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) May 21, 2014
Which team will reach the NBA Finals?
The Pacers hope Stephenson is able to maintain that level of the play for the rest of the series. While they looked out of sorts near the end of the regular season and early in the playoffs, they are rounding back into form at the right time.
If Stephenson emerges as a reliable third option alongside George and West, who should bounce back in Game 3, the Pacers will be a serious threat to the Heat's three-peat bid.