On Wednesday night against the Indians Pacers, Lance Stephenson was doing some Lance Stephenson things. He was a ball of energy for the home team, and a huge reason why the Pacers were able to fight all the way back from a 31-point deficit to actually take the lead in the fourth quarter. With a little over 8 minutes to play, Stephenson was playing some physical defense on Rivers, and it lead to some minor shoving and talking amongst the two players. A couple of minutes later, Rivers had the ball at the top of the key and was once again being defended by Stephenson, a known pesky defender. Rivers made an upwards motion with his elbow in an attempt to clear some space, and the referees apparently deemed that worthy of a technical foul. This meant that Rivers would be ejected, since he had earned his first technical just a couple minutes prior in the scuffle with Stephenson.
Watching the play live, it was extremely hard to decipher exactly why Tony Brothers had called a technical on Rivers, as no actual contact was made. Watching the play in slow motion makes the decision even more confusing. The only possible explanation I could come up with is that Brothers knew those players were getting physical and had just had a minor altercation minutes prior, and he was trying to avoid a more serious confrontation later on. However, it’s very hard to justify Rivers getting an ejection in this situation, seeing as though absolutely no contact was made and it was clear that Rivers wasn’t actually trying to hurt Stephenson. This is a sentiment that Rivers himself expressed on Twitter immediately after the game.
Never in my life have I been thrown out of Game for something so ridiculous. Seriously…never . League gotta look at this one.— Austin Rivers (@AustinRivers25) March 31, 2022
I think it’s easy to understand Rivers’ frustration with regards to the ejection, especially if you root for the Nuggets and know the bad blood that exists between Brothers and the star player, Nikola Jokic. Fortunately for the Nuggets, they were able to withstand the huge run from the Pacers and the ejection from Rivers, and won the game to end their road trip. Hopefully Rivers can use this incident as fuel going forward as the team looks to make a push going into the playoffs.