The refs spoiled Kristaps Porzingis’ postseason debut and a thrilling NBA playoff game with two dubious calls on Tuesday night.
Porzingis was ejected from Game 1 of the Clippers-Mavericks series after a brief altercation with Los Angeles forward Marcus Morris, led to the referees giving the Latvian star his second technical of the night.
Dallas led 71-66 with 9:10 left in third when Luka Doncic was called for palming the ball. Morris was eager to grab the ball and ended up grabbing Doncic, who sought to push his way free. Porzingis came over and he and attempted to brush away Morris, who responded with a push. Referees gave former Knicks technical fouls.
The Clippers rallied for a 118-110 win.
“I saw him getting into Luka’s face and I didn’t like that. That’s why I reacted.” Porzingis, who 14 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes, said. “That’s a smart, smart thing to do from their part. I’ve just got to be smarter and control my emotions, especially on the first one.”
The decision drew the ire of those on social media, including LeBron James and Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki.
“Man that was BOGUS AS HELL MAN!!!!! Cmon man,” the Lakers star wrote.
Nowitzki added, “That ejection is super soft.”
Kristaps Porzingis was ejected for THIS (his 2nd technical) and Dirk Nowitzki backed him up on Twitter! 💪
Dirk: “That ejection is super soft…” pic.twitter.com/fqh6nvapwK
— 9jaHoops Mag (@9jahoopsMag) August 18, 2020
Not even the instigating Morris thought Porzingis deserved to be tossed.
“I wish that Porzingis played because it’s playoffs, man — nobody should get thrown out in playoffs,” Morris, who the Clippers acquired from the Knicks at the trade deadline, said. “I know that really hurt their team. Not my fault, but I didn’t think it was that serious.”
Crew chief Kane Fitzgerald said officials determined after watching replay that Porzingis had escalated the incident when he approached Morris.
Porzingis had picked up his first technical foul in the first half for his reaction to a foul called when he believed he’d blocked a shot. The Clippers swarmed Doncic from the outset, forcing him into three turnovers in the first two minutes while racing to a 10-0 lead.
“KP had my back. He did it for me. He did it for his teammate. He had my back,” Doncic, who finished with 42 points, said. “Not just me, but the whole team appreciates that. I don’t think it was fair to take him out of the game, especially in the playoffs.”
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday.
— With AP