It’s not often that you see four players ejected from an NBA game, let alone on a single play. That’s exactly what happened during The Indiana Pacers’ 111-100 win over the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, following an altercation between Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Pacers big man Myles Turner.
After Turner blocked Gobert’s shot with just over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Gobert took a tumble and appeared to grab a hold of Turner’s shorts, bringing him to the floor. Turner took exception to the action, chasing down Gobert to deliver a two-handed shove, and Gobert responded by charging at Turner. A lot of hugging and tugging ensued, with members of both teams rushing to the scene of the altercation.
After reviewing the play, officials assessed Turner and Gobert with technical fouls (it was Gobert’s second tech of the night) and both players were ejected. That was pretty much expected given the nature of the altercation and the modern landscape of the NBA, particularly just a couple of nights after reigning MVP Nikola Jokic earned a one-game suspension by delivering a hard shoulder to the back of Heat forward Markieff Morris.
“Twenty years ago, they would let you fight a little more. I can’t put myself in a position where I’m hurting my team, Gobert said after the game. “I’ve got more to lose. I’ve got to stand up for myself, but I’m not going to get suspended.”
Less expected, however, were the penalties for Jazz players Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles, who were also ejected along with single technical fouls for their role in the aftermath of the altercation. You can see in the video, however, that Ingles appears to shove official Ed Malloy as he enters the fray. Mitchell continued toward the Pacers bench while the officials attempted to break things up, and also appeared to make contact with an official during the fracas.
According to Malloy, the crew chief for the game, “Ingles was assessed a technical foul and was ejected from the game for making contact with an official and acting as an instigator and escalating the situation.” Malloy made an important distinction with his next answer, however, when he said that Ingles’ contact “wasn’t deemed intentional.”
That’s significant because, by the letter of the law, Ingles could also face a suspension from the NBA for making contact with an official. As the rulebook states:
“Any player or coach guilty of intentional physical contact with an official shall automatically be suspended without pay for one game. A fine and/or longer period of suspension will result if circumstances so dictate.”
The rule clearly states that the contact must be “intentional,” however, so Malloy calling it “unintentional” should help Ingles avoid a suspension or further punishment.
Malloy didn’t mention contact with an official regarding Mitchell, saying that he was ejected for “acting as an instigator and escalating the situation,” so it seems unlikely that he will be suspended either. It’s certainly possible, however, that Gobert and/or Turner could face a suspension for their actions.
After the game, Mitchell blamed officials for not taking control early.
“That shouldn’t have happened. It isn’t nothing else, just built-up frustration,” Mitchell said after the game, via Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. “I’m not going to put the fact that we lost the game on this. … That should have been taken care of in the first half. We’re being held accountable for our actions, they’ve got to as well.”
As the game wound down, Jazz center Hassan Whiteside and Pacers forward Kelan Martin were both hit with technical fouls as well, though neither was ejected from the game. We’ll wait and see if any additional fines or suspensions follow what turned into an eventful conclusion to Thursday night’s game.