• Washington, Sep 22 (IANS) NBA referees can hand a heavier penalty to players who intentionally occupy the space where the shooters need to come down, a senior National Basketball Association (NBA) official confirmed.

    Golden State Warriors centre Zaza Pachulia angered San Antonio Spurs fans everywhere when Kawhi Leonard injured his ankle after landing on the big man’s foot in last season’s Western Conference Finals opener, reports Xinhua news agency.

    Pachulia was only given a regular foul then, but replay showed his probable intent to hurt Leonard by sliding his foot on the Spurs forward’s landing spot.

    “It’s 100 percent for the safety of the players,” Joe Borgia, the vice president of replay and referee operations, said on Thursday.

    According to Borgia, referees will now be able to look at replay to determine if the defender recklessly positioned his foot in an unnatural way, which could trigger an upgrade to a flagrant or a technical foul if there’s no contact but an apparent attempt to injure.

    Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris was another casualty of the dirty play last season. He landed on Al Horford’s foot in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semi-final, limping out of a game the Celtics rallied to win.

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    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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