Bowen avoids punishment, will play in Game 4

SAN ANTONIO -- While Bruce Bowen's aggressive defensive style remains under the league's microscope, the San Antonio Spurs guard will not be suspended for Monday night's Game 4 against the Suns.

Bruce Bowen Bowen

Bowen's knee to Steve Nash's groin in Game 3, originally whistled during the game as a personal foul, has been upgraded by the league to a Flagrant Foul 1, a league spokesman said. But that decision results in neither a fine nor a suspension for Bowen, who said at the Spurs' Monday morning shootaround that he has apologized to Nash.

"The reaction of the bench, it's easy to say, 'Oh, that was calculated on his behalf because of who it is.' But I have too much respect for Steve, two-time MVP, a great player, I have respect for him and I wouldn't do anything like that," Bowen said. "It's just part of the game, I think, that you have to be man enough at times, when you do something and it's not the right thing that you've done, you have to be man enough to say, 'Hey, I'm sorry for that.' That's all it was, in the spirit of competition."

The Spurs lead the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series 2-1.

Meanwhile, in the Warriors-Jazz Western semifinal, Baron Davis' elbow on Derek Fisher is under review but Jason Richardson's foul on Mehmet Okur is not being looked at for further punishment. Richardson's foul will remain classified a Flagrant Foul 2.

Players get points that can lead to suspensions for flagrant fouls. Bowen's is one point on his record, Richardson's is two points.

Bowen continues to be widely watched. The league decided to conduct a full investigation into Saturday's incident after declining to do so when Bowen was accused of intentionally kicking Amare Stoudemire in Game 2.

Stoudemire called Bowen and Manu Ginobili "dirty" players after the Game 2 tangle, in which Bowen admitted he "did clip" Stoudemire from behind on a dunk, but Nash has consistently refused to voice any public displeasure with Bowen's physical play, which the Suns believe was a factor in Nash's 0-for-9 shooting in the first half in Game 3.

On the play in question, Bowen pivoted in an attempt to clear space in the first minute of the second half and landed his knee between Nash's legs. Bowen insisted later that he apologized to Nash immediately.

Bowen told the San Antonio Express-News: "I said to him, 'Now, Steve, you know I didn't try to knee you there,' and he said, 'Yeah, absolutely, Bruce,' and we gave each other five."

In explaining what happened, Bowen said: "He was crowding me, and in this game you're taught to get people off of you. If someone is taking up your space, you have nothing to do. But with all the stuff that is going on with [me], I'm sure that will end up on YouTube."

How the Suns respond from a physicality standpoint to their 108-101 defeat in Game 3 has become the major story line of the series for the two active playoff teams with the best regular-season records.

Information from ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein and ESPN writer Elizabeth Merrill was included in this report.