PHOENIX — Jeff Hornacek has seen — and heard — enough.
“It’s driving us all crazy with the technicals,” the Phoenix Suns head coach said following Sunday’s 120-100 loss to the L.A. Clippers.
“We’re going to get it straight, whether they like it or not. We’re not just in this for this year, this is for the next few years and trying to be a team that in a couple of years can try to win a championship and until we show these referees that we’re not going to argue, we’re going to continue to do this.”
“This” is an immediate removal from the game without a return after a player has been hit with a technical foul.
Markieff Morris learned the hard way. He picked up a ‘T’ 90 seconds into the third quarter Sunday night for talking back at the official following a call in his favor, by the way — and was benched for the rest of the half.
“I really don’t want to talk about it,” Morris said. “I want to talk about our team and how we played (Sunday). I don’t want to make this about me because it’s not about me.”
For Morris, it was his 10th technical foul of the season, the second-most in the NBA behind Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, who has 11.
A player’s 16th technical foul carries an automatic one-game suspension.
“Something is going to have to be done; either we don’t play them, we continue to sit them like this or we get new guys in here that want to win a championship,” said Hornacek, clearly frustrated by his players’ inability to keep their composure on the court.
The Suns lead the league with 36 player technical fouls.
“If you’ve been a basketball player before, sometimes it happens. I mean, you get caught in the moment, your emotions get the best of you and it happens,” Isaiah Thomas said, adding later he agrees with his coach’s position, “because at the end of the day you get these technicals and Coach sits you the rest of the game, it hurts. It hurts us a team. We got to figure it out.”
The policy — with the backing of the front office — went into effect after the Suns received two technicals in a five-point loss at San Antonio Jan. 9.
All was quiet the ensuing five games, the longest stretch of the season without a technical foul called, until P.J. Tucker and Goran Dragic earned ‘Ts’ — their sixth and fourth of the season, respectively — five minutes apart in the third quarter against Houston on Friday.
Tucker re-entered the game to start the fourth quarter because he never said a word to the official but stared down James Harden, which prompted the technical, according to Hornacek.
Dragic, though, never saw the floor again.
“I think that’s a good thing,” he said of being benched, “because before, (Hornacek) tried to talk to us and we had a couple of meetings and we didn’t listen to him. Then the front office, they said that if you get a technical you’re not going to play anymore and I think that’s right because if you want to be a playoff team or we’re playing for the playoffs, we lost a couple of games because of technicals and we cannot afford to do that anymore.”