NEW YORK Isiah Thomas avoided an NBA suspension, even though the league said Thursday there was contact between the New York Knicks coach and the official who threw him out of a game.
The league ruled the contact wasn't initiated by Thomas but accidentally created by official Eric Lewis while he was ejecting Thomas from Wednesday night's game against Houston.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank called it "inadvertent contact from the official in signaling the technical foul."
Thomas was tossed with 11:19 remaining in the Knicks' 101-92 loss after he came onto the floor to yell at Lewis, claiming Rockets center Yao Ming should have been called for a 3-second violation.
Though Thomas said he didn't touch the official, they clearly made contact when Lewis was issuing Thomas' first ejection of the season.
CAVS' VAREJAO INJURED: The Cleveland Cavaliers said Thursday that Anderson Varejao has a left knee bruise and left Achilles' strain, making his playing status questionable for tonight's game in Cleveland against the Charlotte Bobcats. An MRI exam confirmed the injuries. The 6-foot-10 forward-center had two points and five rebounds in the 90-81 loss to the Hawks. Through 15 games, the Brazilian is averaging 7.5 points per game. He missed the first part of the season in a contract holdout.
DUNCAN LEADS VOTE: Tim Duncan is in an ideal position to earn his ninth consecutive All-Star start. The San Antonio Spurs star was leading all Western Conference forwards when the fourth and final voting update for the NBA All-Star game was released Thursday. Voting will continue through Jan. 20, and the starters will be announced Jan. 24. Duncan (1,246,125 votes) and Denver's Carmelo Anthony (1,218,106) lead the West forwards this season, with Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki in third at 946,421 votes. Utah's Carlos Boozer is in fourth 402,917.
Yao (1,255,263), Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (1,441,333) and Houston's Tracy McGrady (907,639) are on pace to join Duncan and Anthony in the West lineup.
Eastern Conference forwards Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers remain the top two vote-getters for the Feb. 17 game in New Orleans. Garnett has 1,756,251 votes and James, last year's leader, is next with 1,564,974.
Miami's Dwyane Wade (1,179,889) and New Jersey's Jason Kidd (868,069) are on track to start at guard, and Orlando's Dwight Howard (1,456,898) at center for the East.
SPURS SIGN RICHARDSON: The San Antonio Spurs on Thursday signed guard-forward Jeremy Richardson.
The 6-foot-7 Richardson played three games with the Memphis Grizzlies after being signed in late December. He was waived Jan. 7. Before his stint with Memphis, Richardson averaged a league-high 28.5 points for Fort Wayne of the NBA Development League.
Richardson was one of the Miami Heat's final cuts in the preseason and has also played for the Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers. A Delta State graduate, the 23-year-old Richardson spent most of last season in the D-League, with Fort Worth.