The Memphis Grizzlies have plenty to be upset about amid their 1-8 start. But after a 127-121 loss to the Utah Jazz on Friday, head coach Taylor Jenkins zeroed in on the officiating.
Memphis star Jaren Jackson Jr. was ejected with two consecutive technicals in the loss after he argued against a missed call with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter. That wasn't the only time the matchup saw Jackson or Jenkins disagree with officials. Where the Jazz were granted 29 free-throw attempts, the Grizzlies had 13. Recently acquired Memphis guard Marcus Smart also fouled out halfway through the fourth.
When Jenkins was asked about the officiating postgame, he told reporters to "saddle up" for the profane rant that followed.
“One of the most poorly officiated games I’ve ever seen," Jenkins began. "Record it. I’m fine with it. F***ing atrocious.”
Jenkins utilized the discrepancy in free-throw attempts as a tipping-off point for his almost two-minute-long address.
"Twenty-nine free throws to 13. I’m not that coach. You go back in history, I’ve done this one other time," he said. "Our team is competing their asses off — competing their asses off. And this is what happens? The interactions right now with the officials? Complete disrespect."
He went on to acknowledge that he'll be penalized by the league for his comments before getting more specific about what referees did wrong.
"I know what’s coming," Jenkins added. "It’s unbelievable, the looks on the [official's] faces while I’m trying to engage in conversation to defend our guys that are busting their tail right now."
Based on video replays of the sequence that resulted in Jackson's ejection, Utah’s John Collins made contact with the Grizzlies center's arm. Jackson garnered the initial technical foul by throwing his hands up and punching the air when no foul was called. When he shouted as he approached an official, he got the second technical, which prompted an automatic ejection. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year left the game with 14 points and four rebounds.
“[Jackson] plays 23 minutes and is in the paint all night,” Jenkins said. “He’s one of the most professional players in this league and he gets a double technical foul. The excuse I get is that he’s charging at an official. It’s called de-escalation. Two possessions in a row, he gets hacked underneath the basket, zero free throw attempts.”
Jenkins said he looks forward to watching tape from Friday's loss, which dropped the team to 0-2 in the In-Season Tournament.
The NBA then fined him $25,000 on Sunday for his comments, something that shouldn't come as a surprise given his comments. That discipline, however, is the least of his worries.
"I gotta defend my guys," he said. "And we’re not trying to lose our heads. We’re trying to go out and win basketball games and trying to play better. It’s as simple as that. We’re trying to play better."
The Grizzlies will return Sunday at the Los Angeles Clippers. Their next In-Season Tournament contest comes in the following game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.