Sixers’ Nerlens Noel ejected after retaliatory swing at Jason Smith

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Referees always seem to get the guy who retaliates — but if you retaliate with a blow to the head, you have to expect what’s coming next.

Late in the third quarter of the Sixers’ 105-97 loss to Orlando, the Magic’s Jason Smith threw a forearm to the chest of Nerlens Noel as those two were starting to try to establish position for a play. It was a foul, Smith would be given a technical for the play.

But Nerlens Noel responded with a blow to the back of Smith’s head, and that got him ejected. It looked like Noel was trying to go for a headlock, it wasn’t much of a punch, but a shot to the head will get you ejected every time. There likely will be a fine from the league to follow.

Smith and Noel had been going at it all night, and Smith is an instigator (this is far from his first run-in like this). But Noel has to know that about Smith already, and he has to know how any contact to the head in a situation like this is going to get treated.