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The official word from the NBA on Friday was play on when it comes to Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro and Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic in the wake of their tussle at the end of Wednesday night’s Heat victory at Moda Center.
Rather than issue suspensions, the league fined each $25,000.
The sanctions were announced by Byron Spruell, President, League Operations.
The NBA’s assessment: “Following an on-ball screen set by Nurkic that knocked Herro to the court, Herro initiated the altercation by pursuing Nurkic and shoving him in the back. Nurkic retaliated by pushing at Herro’s face with an open left hand.”
Each player was assessed a technical foul and ejected. Had Nurkic’s action been deemed a punch, he would have been subject to suspension.
The incident was in marked contrast to the Heat’s Nov. 8 melee with the Denver Nuggets that started with a hard foul by Heat forward Markieff Morris and was followed up by an aggressive blindside shove by Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.
With the NBA citing escalation in that incident, as both teams met at midcourt, Morris was fined $50,000 and Jokic was handed a one-game suspension. Morris remains sidelined from that incident due to whiplash.
The Heat’s trip continues with a Saturday night game against the Phoenix Suns.
Morris made an appearance at Friday’s practice in Phoenix, with coach Erik Spoelstra calling it encouraging.
“It is,” Spoelstra said. “He had an appointment on the West Coast, and it made a lot of sense just to meet us here. He was able to go through some practice today and be able to fly back with us.”
Morris had shot before recent home games, with this seemingly the latest step toward a return.
Morris has indicated on Twitter that a return is approaching.
He also took to Twitter to clap back at those who have questioned his extended absence, posting Thursday of Jokic and the November incident, “It’s a real injury! Imagine having a 300 pound sloppy fat boy run full speed and make direct contact with your spine! I’ll be back soon like I said.”
Of responses to that Tweet, Morris posted, “I said what I said! Heat nation I’ll see y’all soon!!”
Spoelstra declined to offer updates on the status of Bam Adebayo (thumb), Dewayne Dedmon (knee) and KZ Okpala (wrist), with all three traveling with the team.
“They’re all making progress,” he said. “But we’re just going to have to keep on evaluating them.”
With a two-day break, Spoelstra said the Heat took advantage of the rare practice opportunity, especially with the sidelined players on hand.
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“They’ve been able to get some work in,” he said, “but not in an organized full team setting like this. A day like today is invaluable. You don’t get many of them.”
Still away from the Heat in health-and-safety protocols are Gabe Vincent, Marcus Garrett and Udonis Haslem.
Spoelstra offered praise for the Suns’ No. 2 defensive ranking ahead of Saturday’s matchup (the Heat stand No. 11).
“They have a great system,” he said. “They’re really well coached and versed. They have committed two-way players that understand the importance of defending on that side of the floor and they’ve been consistent.
“You’re looking at two years now of really being a consistent defensive team. They can do it in a lot of different ways: protecting the paint in a normal coverage, they can do it switching coverages. They’re just very diverse and very committed on that end.”