By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Kemba Walker has played a lot of pressure-packed basketball in his life, but he had never been ejected from a game at any level. That streak ended Wednesday night at TD Garden.
In the third quarter of Wednesday night’s loss, as the Celtics were clawing their way back against the San Antonio Spurs, Walker received the brunt of a hard screen by LaMarcus Aldridge. He hit the floor hard, and wasn’t too pleased that there was no call on the play.
Walker said a magic word and was immediately given a technical by rookie official Evan Scott. Fair enough.
But Scott didn’t do much of anything to diffuse the situation, and hovered around Walker as the C’s guard continued to plead his case. Another magic word was used, and Walker was given another quick technical, resulting in the first ejection of his life. Scott must have gone to the Joey Crawford School Of Ejections, based on how quickly he gave Walker the boot.
“I guess he felt I said a little too much,” Walker said after the game. “It’s his choice. It’s on those guys to make those decisions; he made it.”
When asked about Walker’s two technicals after the game, crew chiefs Rodney Mott said that Walker used profanity toward Evans, resulting in his ousting. Given this is a new experience for him, Walker was a bit puzzled after the game.
“I definitely said a few bad words, but nothing personal towards him as an individual,” Walker explained. “This is the first time I’ve been ejected in my life. I am a two-time Sportsmanship Award winner as well. So maybe I should get a little leeway.
“I watch a lot of basketball. I see other guys do a lot worse,” Walker continued. “But like I said, the choice was his and he made it. He got me out of there. What can I do? Just forget about it at this point. We lost, I got ejected and now we got another one [Thursday against Philadelphia]. Just want to go out there [Thursday], see what we can do and try and get a win.”
Celtics president of basketball ops. Danny Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich that the Celtics will likely protest Walker’s second technical, but not much will come from it, other than Walker potentially getting some money back.
The ejection came at a pretty important time for Boston, as they were on a 20-7 run and had just cut San Antonio’s lead to seven. It was the closest the game had been since the first quarter. With Walker’s two technicals, another on head coach Brad Stevens, and the shooting foul that was assessed to Boston after the fracas, the Spurs were given five free throws. They hit four of them to take an 80-69 lead, shifting all the momentum back to the Spurs. With the Celtics facing an 11-point deficit and their star player forced to watch the rest of the game from the locker room, any chance of a Boston comeback was essentially over.
Walker’s teammates weren’t happy, and neither were Boston fans. It’s a shame Tommy Heinsohn wasn’t in the building to share his thoughts with Scott.
Stevens, however, refused to use the ejection as an excuse.
“Whatever the call is, the call is,” he said. “Whatever Kemba said to get kicked out, he said, whatever I said to get a tech, I said. But, you know, obviously, there was a lot we could’ve controlled up to that point and after that point and played better.”
Really, the Celtics lost the game when they let San Antonio go on a 22-3 run to start the contest. They had an uphill battle the rest of the way, giving themselves very little room for error.
But it’s not hard to wonder what could have been had Walker not been given such a quick ejection.