Blake Griffin ejected for flagrant-2 on Bulls' Taj Gibson

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Los Angeles Clippers star forward Blake Griffin was ejected from Thursday's game against the Chicago Bulls after committing a flagrant foul-2 on Chicago forward Taj Gibson.

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Griffin committed the foul just past the midway point of the third quarter, with the Bulls leading by 14 points and Gibson looking to add to the lead on the interior:

After biting on Gibson's pump-fake under the basket, Griffin found himself airborne and in a bad spot. On his way down, he appeared to try to swipe at the ball; instead, he swung his right forearm straight into Gibson's face and forehead, snapping his neck back and sending him to the ground.

Griffin immediately went to check on Gibson and helped him up off the floor. Gibson appeared to say he was all right, and patted Griffin on the back of the head as he regained his feet. Despite all apparently being copacetic between the two big men, the referees went to the videotape and decided to slap Griffin with a flagrant-2 for "unnecessary and excessive" conduct, prompting his second ejection of the season.

Griffin clearly did not agree with the decision to give him the gate, and you can kind of understand why:

Then again, when you're talking about windmilling into someone's head, intent only matters so much.

Griffin finished with a team-high 18 points on 7-for-14 shooting with 11 rebounds, two assists and two blocks in just under 25 minutes of work. His early exit removed L.A.'s top offensive option on a night where hardly anybody in a Clippers uniform can buy a bucket, making the job of mounting a comeback against the Bulls all the tougher.

Tougher, yes, but not impossible. With Chicago seeming to relax after Griffin's ejection, the Clippers closed the third on an 11-5 run to head into the fourth period down by 10, putting them within striking distance even after having shot just 30.9 percent from the floor as a team.

Bulls coach Fred Holberg again elected to start the fourth quarter with Jimmy Butler on the bench, despite the All-Star shooting guard's public protest of the practice just one day earlier, with Butler saying "that's when we give up those leads, at the beginning of the fourth." Evidently, the NBA writer's room saw no reason to shake up the script. With Butler sitting, an all-reserve Clipper lineup ripped off a 12-2 run, with Austin Rivers, Wesley Johnson and Josh Smith combining to hit four straight 3-pointers on feeds from Lance Stephenson and Jamal Crawford, knotting the game at 66 with just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth.

But with Butler back in the game as part of a small lineup featuring point guards Derrick Rose and Aaron Brooks in the backcourt alongside Gibson and Pau Gasol, Chicago re-established control, scoring seven straight to take a 76-69 lead with 4:31 remaining. That proved to be just enough cushion. Chris Paul knocked down a couple of 3s, including one from nearly half-court, but couldn't hit one last 28-footer — on which he kicked out his leg in an apparent attempt to draw a three-shot foul, as Brooks had just two minutes earlier — over Rose in the closing seconds, as the Bulls hung on for an 83-80 win.

Gasol led the way with 24 points on 10-for-19 shooting to go with six rebounds, two steals and two blocks in 33 minutes. Butler added 14, albeit on 4-for-14 shooting, with a team-high eight assists, two steals and two blocks in 37 1/2 minutes of work.

After going scoreless in the first half, Rose came out for the third quarter without the clear protective mask he's been wearing ever since suffering an orbital fracture before the start of the season ... and promptly scored 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting, including nine in the deciding fourth quarter to help Chicago snap its three-game losing streak. After the game, Rose said he just forgot the mask in the locker room at halftime and that, despite having been cleared to take it off three days ago, he's not sure if he'll continue to play without it.

For his part, Gibson — who stayed in the game after Griffin's forearm and finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and two assists in 28 1/2 minutes in his second straight start — didn't seem to be in particularly dire straits or in a mood to hold a grudge:

At the end of the day, then, it sounds like the only one really hurt was Griffin.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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