The Houston Rockets blew out the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, but that didn’t stop Russell Westbrook from beefing with the entire Warriors bench and getting ejected for elbowing Damion Lee.
Westbrook ejected for elbow-to-the-face technical
The elbowing happened with about six minutes left in the fourth quarter. Westbrook, who had picked up his first technical foul of the night in the first quarter, elbowed Lee in the face while going up for a rebound, and then stared Lee down. Westbrook was whistled for a technical, which the referees went to look at.
Meanwhile, the Warriors’ Juan Toscano-Anderson responded to Westbrook’s stare down by grabbing the ball out of Westbrook’s hands. That set off Westbrook, who turned toward the Warriors’ bench and began jawing at several of them at the same time. A few people stepped between the two parties, which is when the referees officially issued the second technical to Westbrook and he left the game.
Westbrook ejected after picking up second technical 👀 pic.twitter.com/BCYUd1SqJT— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 21, 2020
Westbrook thinks he’s always the bad guy
After the game, Westbrook went into a lot of detail explaining his take on the technical and how he felt about it.
Russ explains the situation that got him a technical and ejection pic.twitter.com/ZojNpcG5Wj— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 21, 2020
"I think it's a situation where I hold myself to a very, very high standard. I think the refs, the fans, media, the NBA [is] put in a position now where I'm not really allowed to do much. Obviously, I'm an emotional guy, but if you watched the clip, obviously, I hit Lee, but it wasn't on purpose. I'm going to the glass, he got hit, he said something to me, I said something to him. I'm standing there, a guy came and snatched the ball out of my hands. Guys come running up to me, I didn't move, but I'm always the one that gets painted to be the bad guy in the whole situation."
Westbrook said that the refs told him to walk toward the Warriors bench while they reviewed the technical, which is how the back-and-forth with the Warriors started.
"I turned around and said, 'What did you say?' So now everybody's running over to me, then I'm walking towards the thing, then [Kevon] Looney steps in front of me, so I feel like I'm in a position [where people think], 'Oh well, Russ is being Russ,' which nobody knows what that means.
"But I got to do a better job of holding myself accountable to a very, very high standard. And I'll make sure I leave no room for error to allow somebody and people paint me out to be a guy that I'm not. I just think it's unfair that after all that, I'm the only one that gets a tech or kicked out. That's not fair. I don't care what nobody says. It's so many other people involved in it that are doing so many things that weren't OK, but I'm the one that gets the tech, gets ejected, and then everybody else is cool, and goes back and play. But like I said, I take responsibility for that and I hold myself to a very high standard of which I'll uphold."
Westbrook believes his reputation for being emotional is leading to calls that shouldn’t happen — or at least wouldn’t be if a different player was involved. Westbrook’s teammate James Harden sort of agreed with him, but he also sort of didn’t. Harden said that Westbrook did what any player would do if they felt unfairly penalized, but that “everybody knows” how Westbrook plays.
James Harden on Russell Westbrook's ejection, 13 technicals: "He did what he had to do." pic.twitter.com/UdfFGMx72s— Jake Hutchinson (@hutchdiesel) February 21, 2020
As for the ball snatch that set off Westbrook, Toscano-Anderson said that Westbrook’s attitude after elbowing Lee is what made him do it.
Warriors' Juan Toscano-Anderson on the flair-up with Westbrook: "Once I grabbed the ball, I just walked away. I don’t got money to give away for technical fouls." He added: "I didn’t like how he bumped Damion (Lee), and how he was flexing on us."— Phil Barber (@Skinny_Post) February 21, 2020
Westbrook now has 13 technicals on the season, the most in the NBA. If he gets three more, he’ll earn an automatic one-game suspension.
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