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James, West, Stephenson fined for flopping

(AP) James, West, Stephenson fined for flopping
By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK
Miami's LeBron James and Indiana's David West and Lance Stephenson were all fined $5,000 by the NBA on Thursday for violating the league's anti-flopping policy.

James and West were penalized for the same play during a messy Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. James spun and fell and West tumbled toward the baseline during what looked like a poorly choreographed dance routine as the NBA's MVP defended the Indiana forward.

Stephenson was fined for exaggerating the contact after a slight elbow from Ray Allen following his basket, staggering back toward the sideline after making a short jumper.

The NBA began fining players this year for trying to fool referees into calling fouls when there had been limited contact.

The Pacers' 99-92 victory Tuesday was filled with such plays and marked by a combined 55 personal fouls. One of those fouls, committed by West against Dwyane Wade with 5:57 left in the fourth quarter of Game 4, was upgraded by the NBA to a flagrant-1.

Steve Kerr, working the game as an analyst for TNT, said flopping has "been apparent throughout the series but I think it got worse" during Game 4. The league acted hours before Game 5 at Miami.

James was voted to the NBA's All-Defensive first team, but Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau accused him of flopping after a play during the Heat's second-round series victory over the Bulls. The play with West came not long after James said flopping was "not even a bad thing, you're just trying to get the advantage."

Kerr said flopping was "unbecoming of star players."

"To me, flopping is sort of the territory of guys who are just trying to hang onto their position in the league and they have to find their way to be successful and productive somehow," he said in a phone interview before the penalties were announced.

"So if (Shane) Battier and (Tyler) Hansbrough are going to flop a little bit because that's how they're going to impact the game right now, I'm probably more willing to give them a pass than when I see David West and LeBron falling all over each other in the post, two of the best players in the league."

Players were given a warning for a first offense during the regular season but are fined for the first flop in the postseason.

The plays can be seen at nba.com/official.

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AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.

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