The Milwaukee Bucks got walloped at home by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night. That's no sin, because the Thunder have administered beatings to a lot of good teams this season, but it hurt Scott Skiles' 28-29 squad quite a bit, pushing them 1.5 games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with just nine games remaining on their schedule.
Milwaukee was outclassed from the opening tip, but they were feisty throughout, with perhaps no Buck showing his fire more than reserve big man Larry Sanders. Unfortunately, he showed his fire by picking up two technical fouls in the third and fourth quarters, earning the first ejection of his NBA career. Behold:
At first blush, Sanders' techs seem totally reasonable — he barked at official Greg Willard after a third-quarter foul call and he got an elbow up near the mug of Nick Collison after a fourth-quarter free throw. You carp and you play chippy, you're going to get dinged, which is exactly what a struggling team scraping for a playoff berth and down double-digits to the best team in the Western Conference doesn't need.
After the game, though, Sanders made it clear that — on his first T, at least, which he picked up after being called for a foul for contesting a dunk attempt by Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha — he had a very legitimate gripe. The Bucks center checked the tape of his first tech and showed us why he was mad on his Twitter account:
That, Mr. Sefolosha, is a facepalm that Paul Silas would be proud to call his own. It's also a pretty understandable reason for Sanders to be upset, considering he went straight up, got mushed and still wound up giving up free throws. If anything, one would suspect that this should be called an offensive foul.
Still, Sanders also has to know that he can't stalk his way across the court, get in an official's face and yell at him. And, after 105 NBA games, he also has to know that he can't stew in his own juices for a few minutes, get overly upset at a shove from Nick Collison directly in front of the official he just yelled at, and blatantly retaliate. That's going to trigger some sense memory and, perhaps, even a bit of vindictive behavior. If you get run on a play like that, cruddy as it might seem, it's at least partially your own fault. Even if the impetus for the bad behavior is totally understandable.
Reached after the game for comment on both the officiating and Sanders' behavior, Skiles crushed a deer skull into dust with his bare hands and gnawed through a table leg. Such a competitor, that one.