Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden was ejected in the third quarter of Thursday’s Game 3 against the Brooklyn Nets after picking up a flagrant-2 foul on forward Royce O’Neale.
Harden used his off-hand while driving to strike O’Neal in the midsection, an act the referees deemed unnecessary and excessive.
Harden called the ejection “unacceptable” when speaking to reporters postgame, per The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov.
He added, “When somebody’s draped on you like that defensively, it’s just a natural basketball reaction. I didn’t hit him hard enough for him to fall down like that.”
The former MVP finished his night with 21 points, five rebounds, and four assists in 29 minutes of action.
Harden wasn’t the only 76ers star involved in a chippy play. Referees assessed scoring champion Joel Embiid a flagrant-1 foul early in the first quarter for kicking Nets big man Nic Claxton between the legs.
The penalty could have been harsher, especially considering the flagrant-2 and one-game suspension Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green received for doing a similar action on Sacramento Kings star Domantas Sabonis earlier this week.
Claxton was also assessed a technical foul on the play and picked up a second technical in the fourth quarter to get ejected from the contest.
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