MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- The NBA has retroactively assessed Golden State Warriors forward David Lee a flagrant foul 1 for his hit to the face of Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, according to a Lakers spokesman.
Howard said it was too little, too late following the Lakers' 120-117 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
"I don't really care," Howard said. "It's late now. There's nothing we can do about it."
Howard did care enough to back down from the remarks he made after requiring three stitches in his lower lip from Lee's smack to his face, when he promised retaliation against Golden State's All-Star big man.
"I do want to clear it up," Howard said. "I'm not going to do anything stupid the next time we play [the Warriors] to jeopardize myself, to jeopardize the team or jeopardize his career. Even though I felt like the play was dirty, I'm not going to do anything to retaliate but go out there and play hard and do it the right way, which is winning the game and dominating, instead of doing something stupid which could cost me or our team the game."
It was a far more tame message than what Howard had said previously.
"He got away with a shot," Howard said after the Lakers' 109-103 loss to the Warriors on Monday. Lee was not called for a foul at the time, causing Howard to pick up his ninth technical foul of the season while arguing with the referee. "I will remember this game. I will remember that shot. He said he wasn't trying to do it. You can look at the play and see it for yourself. I will take care of it later."
The Lakers host the Warriors on April 12, in the third-to-last regular-season game for both teams.
With just 10 games remaining overall and the Lakers clinging to a one-game lead for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, Howard has plenty of motivation to toe the line. The Lakers center is just one flagrant foul point from an automatic one-game suspension from the league.
"I was frustrated, but I wouldn't do anything, especially to mess our team up at this point," Howard said. "My team, they need me on the floor, and we can't afford for me to do anything to mess that up."
Howard bounced back from scoring just 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting against Golden State to put up 25 points, 16 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 blocks against Minnesota.
He plans to stay in the lineup and continue to give those types of efforts for the Lakers, not letting any vendetta against Lee compromise that.
"I'll never forget it, but like I said, the way to retaliate is to let the game do the work and not doing anything foolish," Howard said. "My teammates need me on the court, so I got to do whatever I can."