While it may have appeared that way to some, Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers insisted on Tuesday that his players did not try to purposely “provoke” Kristaps Porzingis or the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of their opening-round playoff series on Monday night.
Porzingis was ejected from Dallas’ 118-110 loss to the Clippers in the third quarter after a minor incident with Marcus Morris, the first ejection of his career, something that drew harsh criticism from some of the biggest names in the sports world.
“I think we have some guys who are agitators. I think that’s good,” Rivers said Tuesday. “But I can guarantee you that wasn’t on our game-plan list. That’s just ridiculous.”
Kristaps Porzingis ejected
Porzingis picked up his second technical foul of the game after a scrum in the third quarter, which had started after Luka Doncic and Morris got into it on the block after a whistle was called.
Porzingis ran in and lightly shoved Morris, who pushed him back. The two both received technical fouls, and officials said after that Porzingis was assessed his technical because he was an “escalator to the altercation.”
Porzingis’ first technical came in the second quarter, after he was called for fouling Paul George on what looked like a very clean block and punching the air.
Though he admitted that he needs to “be smarter and control my emotions next time,” Porzingis felt as if the Clippers were trying to get under his skin out on the court.
“They provoke us, especially me. I should’ve been smarter,” Porzingis said, via USA Today. “It’s not their main guys, but some of the other guys. That’s their job, and that’s part of their game and we can’t fall into that. We have to be above that.”
While Rivers feels differently, he wasn’t happy about Porzingis’ ejection either. He even said so during the game in an on-court interview with ESPN.
The first technical — and George’s technical foul for punching the air in the first quarter — Rivers said, wasn’t needed.
“I don’t think PG should’ve gotten a tech and I don’t think Porzingis should’ve gotten the first tech,” Rivers said. “In a playoff game, they did do the punch, but it was almost a quick frustration thing. I don’t know how you judge that, because if you don’t do one you do the other. I guarantee they had to give Porzingis his [technical] because they gave Paul his in the first quarter. I thought those two techs were connected.
“I didn’t like either of them … That’s not the way you want the game to go.”
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