DeJuan Blair Suspended 1 Game for Kicking Tiago Splitter

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2014

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Kicking is for soccer, not basketball, and Dallas Mavericks forward DeJuan Blair found that out the hard way in the wake of his team's 93-89 Game 4 loss to the San Antonio Spurs

Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears had the report:

Blair is suspended for Game 5 of the series, which is particularly difficult for his team given things are all knotted up at two games apiece.

In the final minutes of a tightly contested game, Blair fell to the ground and kicked Spurs forward/center Tiago Splitter in the head.

Blair was given a technical foul and ejected, which proved costly for his team down the stretch.

ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon was there to highlight the scene:

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While Blair's ill-timed kick certainly played a factor in his team's Game 4 loss, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders raised the million-dollar question after the contest:

Bryan Gutierrez of Mavericks Outsider Report and ESPNDallas.com provided some of Blair's thoughts on the kick, including his reaction to a possible suspension:

Blair's suspension hurts even more because he was playing so well in the fourth game before he kicked Splitter in the head.

He turned in a double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and two steals off the bench in only 16 minutes and was critical during the Mavericks' second-half comeback. The Spurs, at one point, held a 20-point lead and appeared to be running away with the game, but Blair helped key the Mavs' comeback effort.

USA Today's Nina Mandell pointed out the ill timing of Blair's actions, especially given how the Spurs eventually won: "It wasn’t only a bad moment of sportsmanship, but bad timing for Blair to lose his temper: He had put up 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting, 11 rebounds and two steals in 16 minutes. The Spurs held off the Mavericks to even the series with a 93-89 win."

If nothing else, his one-game suspension limits Dallas' depth for Game 5 and puts extra pressure on Samuel Dalembert to produce as part of the starting lineup. The Mavericks don't really have any other consistent centers off the bench unless they choose to play Brandan Wright there. 

Rick Carlisle will have to find a way to disperse the minutes and keep his team competitive in the paint against Splitter and Tim Duncan.

That's much easier said than done without Blair available.

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