Blake Griffin ejected for tangling with Andrew Bogut, Warriors and Clippers skirmish after final buzzer
For three quarters, the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers were locked in a tight battle in what was quite likely the most purely entertaining contest of the NBA's five-game Christmas schedule. Then, for a few moments at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth, the bad blood between the two teams arose in several very noticeable ways.
The big incident, which demands a little context, is that Clippers star Blake Griffin was ejected after receiving his second technical foul following a minor tussle with Warriors center Andrew Bogut. The circumstances of their altercation are open to interpretation, but a look at the action helps.
Assigning blame for the incident is fairly tough and will likely depend on one's rooting interests. While jostling for rebounding position off a missed Matt Barnes three-pointer, Bogut appears to instigate matters by shoving Griffin near the shoulders and neck. However, Griffin escalates things by locking his arm into Bogut, ensuring that the players would have a tough time disengaging. Their tussling continued for several seconds, but no significant damage was done. It seemed like a fairly harmless incident that could be solved with double fouls.
Yet, after reviewing video at the scorer's table, the referees assessed both players with technical fouls. It was Bogut's first, but Griffin's second, which earned him an automatic ejection and forced the Clippers to play the vast majority of the fourth quarter without their top scorer and perennial All-Star.
Given the circumstances, it's likely that the resourceful Bogut knew what he was doing when he engaged Griffin. The Clippers forward was handed his first tech following the third-quarter buzzer for stepping close to and exchanging words with Draymond Green after the Warriors forward elbowed him in the neck during Klay Thompson's desperation heave.
Green was rightfully given a flagrant-2 foul and immediately ejected, but Griffin's technical — an iffy call in itself — put Griffin in a precarious position. Any star player with a single tech becomes a target, especially in an era when officials issue technicals for all manner of activity in the hopes of stopping major fights before they start. It may seem like a little much to eject a player for the transgressions of stepping into an opponent's face after an elbow, saying something to him, and later tangling with another opponent, but such is the state of the NBA in late 2013. The league doesn't want players to fight, and the ejection of a marquee star is an acceptable cost.