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“He played pretty aggressive defensively,” Hawks center Al Horford said. “I would say, uhh, it was pretty borderline. I wouldn’t want anybody to take my feet out. I don’t think that was his intention. He was just playing hard defense.”

With benefit of the replay, the NBA botched a chance to make it clear that hard defense is one thing, doing what Jones did is unacceptable.

Instead, he essentially shrugged off any lasting ramifications.

“I don’t think this will be anything serious going forward,” Jones said. “It will blow over after a little bit.”

In his mind, he was just going his job, and it’s easy to see how he came to that conclusion. This is how Jones and those like him stay in the league, with hustle and effort and stretching the rulebook as far as it will go _ and then some.

“Dirty plays are things that have nothing to do with basketball itself,” Jones insisted. “I take pride in trying to make basketball plays, to be aggressive, to not give up on plays. As long as I do that, I’m not worried about the view of being a dirty player or doing anything dirty. I’m trying to make basketball plays. There’s nothing out of the context of trying to win a basketball game.”

Now the NBA needs to do its job:

Play a little defense on behalf of its biggest stars.


Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at) or


AP Sports Writer Mike Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this report.