Things got intense in Brooklyn Thursday night — and Tony Brothers made sure his officiating crew was right in the middle of it. For better or for worse.
James Harden was ejected late in the third quarter of Game 3 when his off-hand push caught Royce O’Neal in the… private parts.
This got James Harden ejected. An absolute joke. pic.twitter.com/m8T4h61eil
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 21, 2023
Sixers players and coaches could not believe that was worthy of an ejection — and they were right, this was a common push-off that just caught O’Neal wrong (it should have been a Flagrant 1). Joel Embiid‘s reaction from the bench sums the mood up.
Joel Embiid’s reaction to James Harden’s ejection pic.twitter.com/0vwsreEjIz
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) April 21, 2023
Embiid was fortunate he was not ejected in the first quarter, when two-and-a-half minutes into the game Nic Claxton made a deliberate move to step over Embiid after a dunk and the 76ers’ MVP kicked Claxton in the… well, where Harden hit O’Neal.
Hooooo boy, Sixers-Nets already getting spicy in Game 3 👀😳 pic.twitter.com/4KWf7USwbN
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 20, 2023
Embiid was fortunate only to get a Flagrant 1 for that, he should have been ejected. The logic by referee Tony Brothers that Embiid got to stay in the game because he missed what he was really aiming for is terrible, we all know what the intent was.
Claxton got a technical for that taunt, which came back to haunt him in the fourth when he picked up a second technical for flexing on Embiid, which got Claxton ejected.
Nic Claxton EJECTED for taunting after dunk on Embiid 😳 pic.twitter.com/ejAP3ygpTq
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 21, 2023
That is an incredibly soft second technical and ejection, especially for an intense and emotional game where the outcome was still in doubt.
Where are the referees in Brooklyn drawing the lines? That flex earns a second technical and ejection but he got kicked in the family jewels by Embiid, who remains in the game. And was Harden’s move worthy of an ejection, or was that more a Flagrant 1 move? It’s hard to see the consistency.
Philadelphia closed the game on an 11-1 run to come back and get the 102-97 win to go up 3-0 in the series. Tyrese Maxey took over the game late and scored 25 in the win.
However, we know what the postgame topic of discussion will be — Tony Brother’s crew has put themselves in the middle of this game and impacted the outcome.