Ime Udoka on Jabari Smith Jr.’s suspension: If you’re not gonna land the punch you might as well not throw it

Rockets’ Jabari Smith Jr. and Jazz guard Kris Dunn were suspended by the NBA for getting involved in an on-court altercation in the game between the two teams on Saturday at the Toyota Center. For the ugly altercation, the NBA has handed out suspensions in rapid fashion.

The Rockets head coach, Ime Udoka, has now opened up about it and made a bold statement criticizing Smith for his part in the melee.

Rockets HC Ime Udoka criticizes Jabari Smith Jr.’s actions

During the second quarter of the game, the pair exchanged heated arguments, which quickly escalated into a fight. The 30-year-old Jazz guard initiated the fight by throwing a punch at Smith, who returned the favor. Luckily, both the punches didn’t connect. The game officials separated them and then ejected them from the game. Kris Dunn got suspended for two games, while Jabari Smith Jr. received a game suspension.

When Udoka was asked about Smith’s action, he said, “If a guy grabs you, you’re gonna react, but the throwing punches is the thing, so he’ll learn from that. If you’re not gonna land the punch you might as well not throw it”. According to the 46-year-old, the Rockets forward should have landed the blow if he had thrown it. Otherwise, there was no point to the action.

After all, Udoka himself has experience of getting into a fight with Lakers great LeBron James. However, had Smith listened to his HC and landed the punch, he would have received a harsher punishment. Being a key performer of the Rockets, his prolonged absence could have ruined the franchise’s late season push.

Jabari Smith Jr.’s performances this NBA season

Jabari Smith Jr. was drafted by the Rockets in the 2022 NBA draft as the third overall pick and he seems to be enjoying his second season at the franchise by showcasing his potential in every game.

In December, he recorded his career-high 34 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against the Atlanta Hawks but failed to snatch a win for his team. Smith has been averaging 13.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists, which has improved from his rookie year, where he averaged 12.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

The 20-year-old trained with one of the highest scorers in the NBA, Kevin Durant, and certainly gained a lot of knowledge from the veteran. The 6’11” forward has worked on his shooting skills with 47.2% shot from the floor and 36.5% from the 3-point range.

With the Rockets vying for a spot in the NBA play-in tournament, Smith’s return to the court can be a deciding factor for the Houston team’s fortune this season.

Shalini Ray

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Shalini is a passionate NBA follower who got hooked to the game thanks to Stephen Curry's sharpshooting show. While indulging in the sport of basketball solely within the confines of the school court, she keeps herself as close as possible to the game through all the latest happenings in the world of NBA.


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