January 20, 2018

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The Los Angeles Clippers hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, February 3rd and while the game went down to the wire, there were 2 critical moments when the referees became involved front and center. Austin Rivers was ejected for his 2nd technical foul early in the 2nd quarter, while Chris Paul earned one with his team down 2 and only 20 seconds remaining.

The two consecutive technical fouls issued to Austin Rivers resulted in his ejection and a late game critical technical foul issued to teammate Chris Paul were both within the NBA’s Respect for Game Guidelines.

“Overt actions indicating resentment to a call,” as in facing and “Air Fisting an official” and facing and clapping one’s hands “at” an official are non-negotiable technical fouls issued to Rivers and Paul respectively.
On Austin Rivers’ drive (legal contact by Minnesota’s Andre Miller), he turns and displays a fisting action at the official Courtney Kirkland for want of an “And 1” foul. His second technical resulting in his ejection was issued by partnering crew chief Scott Foster for River’s verbal unsportsmanlike comment about Kirkland’s issuance of River’s first technical foul.

The late game technical issued to Paul was for “clapping one’s hands at the official,” and Lauren Holtkamp had little choice but to issue the technical. The foul was definite as both Paul and J.J. Redick committed illegal contact within the same sequence. Rivers may have not have recognized his illegal fisting action, but Paul knew right away the technical was forthcoming and imminent for the aggressive clap at the official.

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These fisting and clapping actions are far less frequent than in the past and these actions seem more subdued than when these acts needed immediate attention. The NBA may want to review more of these actions to determine if they might funnel into the Heat of the Moment categories.

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Ronnie Nunn

Ronnie Nunn was a referee at the NBA level for 19 years before serving as Director of NBA Officials for 5 years and NBA Director of Development for 3 years. He's also a consultant to FIBA and Euroleague.

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