Dwight Howard was ejected from the Los Angeles Lakers' loss to the Denver Nuggets in the third quarter after a sub-par performance, but insisted the foul he committed on Kenneth Faried had no ill intent.
Howard connected with Faried's face, slamming the second-year player to the ground while he was going up for a shot, a play initially ruled a Flagrant 1 foul. After further review, the foul was upgraded to a Flagrant 2, resulting in an automatic ejection. Howard said he was just trying to foul the airborne Faried, not hurt him.
"My intention was not to hurt anybody," he said. "It was just a hard foul. I've been fouled hard and nothing has happened. You can't put me on a different scale because I'm a strong guy. A foul is a foul."
People on the other sideline, such as Nuggets coach George Karl, had a different reaction:
"I thought he went intentionally to endanger him," Denver Coach George Karl said. "Kenneth, it looked like he was pretty stunned after that."
Faried felt he had been "getting in (Howard's) head" leading to the hard foul.
It was the first ejection of Howard's eight-year career. He had 12 points on six shots when he was ejected, but he had missed five of his nine free throw attempts, and is typically expected to have a larger role in the Lakers' offense than six shots in 27 minutes. Faried, on the other hand, was having a monster game, finishing with 21 points and 15 rebounds.