Monday night in Miami, the Phoenix Suns lost two different players to ejection.
First, it was forward Markieff Morris, who was ejected after being called for a flagrant 2 foul while trying to stop a layup by former Sun Goran Dragic in the third quarter.
Less than four game minutes later, center Alex Len was excused from the game after getting into a bit of a wrestling match with Heat center Hassan Whiteside.
Morris and Len had combined for 23 points and 16 rebounds before they were asked to leave the game, and having to finish without them certainly did not help as Phoenix lost 115-98.
But Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, as a guest of Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday morning, isn’t upset with his players’ actions.
“To me, those are just normal basketball plays,” he said. “I don’t think it was any big deal. Markieff went to try to block Goran’s shot — you know, Goran puts his right arm up a lot and he tried to block it and he kind of caught him across the neck.
“But it wasn’t bad; guys fall down and act like they got killed, and refs feed into that and that’s where the league wants it refereed.”
Hornacek said he asked the ref what Morris is supposed to do in a situation like that, as the only other option would seem to be just letting the guard score an easy two points.
“I’m like, ‘come on now, he didn’t take a long swipe at him trying to knock his head off, he was just trying to block the shot, it’s going to happen,'” the coach said.
Then there was Len, who Hornacek said was just reacting to Whiteside.
“To me, they want to clean all that stuff up, but it was just a play that — if anything — it should have been Whiteside that got thrown out because Alex, the guy landed on top of Alex, he’s just getting him off of him,” the coach said.
Hornacek wondered what someone like Len is supposed to do in that situation. If not respond, does a player just allow someone to land on them?
“You’re going to throw your arms up, you’re going to try to get him off you and then Whiteside instigated it by tackling him in the legs,” he said. “It’s tough because the game is different but we’ve got to find that balance between being tough and hitting guys.
“I just feel we get pushed around too much.”