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Hawks Trae Young given unnecessary ejection for arguing no-call

Denver Nuggets v Atlanta Hawks
Denver Nuggets v Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young was frustrated. Late in the third quarter, he thought the Nuggets' Payton Watson fouled him on a drive to the basket, but he didn't get the call.

When play stopped on the other end of the court, Young complained to the official, all of which looked pretty normal. Then Young walks over and watches Denver's Christian Braun take his first free throw, does some "let's get going" claps with his back to the referee (a good 10 seconds after he moved away), but the official thought that was a clap at him and gave Young a technical foul. From there, everything spiraled — Hawks coach Quin Snyder got a technical for walking on the court to complain about the technical to Young, then Young kept complaining and got a second technical and an ejection.

It was a soft ejection, the latest in a string of those around the league. After the game Young did not speak to the media and Quin Snyder decided not to get fined and said he would not comment on it.

After the game, crew Chief Ben Taylor spoke to a pool reporter. Here are the key segments (with commentary added).

QUESTION:  Why was that possession that Trae Young had when he was driving to the basket, why was that considered a no call or a no foul?

TAYLOR:  We reviewed the play and Trae Young initiates marginal contact by clamping his arm up and under the defender's arm so there was no illegal contact by the defender.

One could argue that Watson put his arm in front of Young first, and the clamp was simply a reaction to that reach, but that could go either way.

QUESTION: What were the circumstances that led to Young drawing his first technical foul?

TAYLOR: He received a warning and Young continued to direct unsportsmanlike comments and then claps at the official.

From the video, that was not a clap at the official — Young had turned away from him nearly 10 seconds before — it was more of a "let's go" clap to the team. That the referee took it as directed at him says more about the ref than Young. It was an incredibly soft first technical. From there things got out of hand and the referees started handing out techs like candy on Halloween.

Atlanta went on to lose the game 129-122 despite 40 points off the bench from Bogdan Bogdanovic, who hit 10 3-pointers.