Oklahoma City Thunder’s Carmelo Anthony puzzled by being ejected in loss to Portland Trail Blazers
Ejected for a flagrant foul 2 in the third quarter of the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s 103-99 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, a restrained Carmelo Anthony said he disagreed with the call but didn’t expand much more beyond that.
“I don’t have no thoughts,” Anthony told reporters following the game. “I don’t have anything to say about that play. I think the league will do what’s right.”
Anthony was ejected following a review of an and-1 layup that he converted over Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic. Anthony elevated into Nurkic and double-clutched, making contact with Nurkic’s chin with his elbow. Nurkic stayed down for a few moments while holding his face, which triggered the review.
“I’ve never seen in the history of the game a guy get an and-1 play and then get ejected from the game,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan told reporters. “That’s probably something you’ve got to talk to the league about.”
Anthony finished with 15 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes.
A flagrant 2 is handed out when a play is seen to be “unnecessary and excessive contact,” which is what the officials viewed Anthony’s play to be.
“We deemed that the contact was excessive and that it was not a natural basketball move, where he seeks out Nurkic, hits him in the face with an elbow and goes back to the basket,” crew chief Rodney Mott said. “So because it’s unnatural and it’s deemed excessive, therefore it is a flagrant foul penalty 2.”
Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook offered his assessment of the ruling.
“It’s nonsense, man,” he said of the ejection. “It don’t make any sense.”
A few minutes prior to the play with Anthony, Westbrook was caught in the side of the face by Noah Vonleh on a reach-in move. No foul was called, but Westbrook went down to the floor, holding his face, forcing the Thunder to call a timeout. Donovan asked for a review, but the officials denied the request.
“I thought that play should’ve been reviewed,” Donovan said. “It may have proven nothing, but I think when someone gets hit in the face and goes down to the floor and you’ve got to call timeout, you should at least review it, just to make sure. I don’t know why they reviewed the other one.
“I probably didn’t ask Russell to stay down on the court long enough to get it reviewed.”
Anthony picked up a technical foul for arguing with an official after Westbrook was hit.
“I didn’t say anything wrong. I think there was just a lot of hostility tonight,” Anthony said. “I didn’t use any profanity. I didn’t yell. Actually, I think I had a smile on my face. I don’t know. I wanted them to just officiate the game the right way, whether it was going with us or going with them — just officiate the game the right way, that was my point. Make it even, make it right, but officiate the game the right way.”
On Friday against the Boston Celtics, Westbrook was assessed a flagrant foul 1 following a review, after he hit Jaylen Brown in the face while going for a jump ball. He said after Sunday’s game that he sees inconsistency in the way plays on which players are hit are being reviewed.
“I got hit in the face. They didn’t review it as they should,” Westbrook said. “I just think that when it’s us, our team, myself, they don’t do the same thing they do. Last game, tipped ball, against Celtics, I accidentally hit the guy in the face. Flagrant foul on me. It was an accident, but I hit him. I actually got hit in the face today. Nobody looks at it. Melo goes, hits Nurkic. They go review. It’s a bunch of bulls—.”
“I just think they don’t referee the same way all the time,” Westbrook added. “They pick and choose when they want to do it, which is not fair, in my opinion. I’ve been in this league for a while, and I’m able to see it and understand it and see what’s right or what’s wrong, but I can see it’s blatant, s— that’s not getting looked at, in my opinion. Get hit, you need to look at it. You look at everything else, you need to take a look at it.”
The Thunder trailed by as many as 11 but charged back to have a chance in the final two minutes. Clutch buckets by Portland’s CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard held off the comeback, along with uncharacteristic free throw shooting by the Thunder, namely from Westbrook, who went just 2-of-7 from the line.
Without Anthony, the Thunder operated behind Westbrook and Paul George exclusively in clutch time, and the two stars combined to score the Thunder’s final 20 points.
Donovan didn’t directly criticize the officiating, but when asked if Westbrook’s free throw struggles “concerned” him, he redirected the question to talk about the foul shooting discrepancy.
“What’s more concerning to me is our opponents have gotten to the free throw line 50 more times than we have,” Donovan said. “And we’ve got a player in Russell who clearly, historically in this league, has gotten to the free throw line as much or if not more than anybody else in this league.”
On Sunday, the Trail Blazers attempted 28 free throws to the Thunder’s 15.
“We haven’t been getting the benefit. Every night, we haven’t been getting the benefit of the doubt,” George said. “I don’t know what it is, especially for Russ. He attacks the basket, and so many of his plays at the rim are questionable, and he’s not getting the benefit of the doubt.”
ESPN’s Kevin Pelton contributed to this report.