Isaiah Thomas is ejected by referee Tony Brothers.Thomas got whistled for a questionable offensive foul in a four-point game with a little more than five minutes to play in regulation, then slammed the ball into the court in frustration. Referee Tony Brothers, who whistled the initial infraction, issued Thomas a technical foul for the outburst, then followed with a second quick technical after Thomas flipped the ball in his direction.
"I actually asked [for an explanation] and [Brothers] just said that he called the first tech for slamming the ball, then the second one for throwing the ball at him," said Stevens, who stared a hole through Brothers from the sideline after the ejection. "So that was the explanation I was given."
Thomas finished with 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting with five rebounds and three assists over 25 minutes. The Celtics fell behind by 10 soon after he was ejected, but rallied to force overtime where the Lakers pulled away again.
Stevens offered some tough love when asked about Thomas' debut, but admitted he did a lot of good when he was on the court.
"He’s gotta be there at the end. I think that’s No. 1," said Stevens. "He does a lot of good things for our team, he’s a good player. And he knows that. He said something to the team in the locker room; he seems like an accountable guy. But he’s a good player and we’re going to need him. We need everybody on board, especially when we’re shorthanded.
"You gotta know the line and not cross it. Again, it was a mistake, not the end of the world. At the same time. He knew that. He was very accountable about that, said it in the locker room, not the way he wanted to start. But he did a lot of good things while he was playing."
Evan Turner didn't believe Thomas deserved to be ejected and said the team won't hold the dismissal against him.
"Obviously, a technical is tough," said Turner. "I don’t think he should have been ejected. Obviously, he wanted to be out there to help us, we know it’s his first impression, but we don’t think negatively of him."
Added teammate Marcus Smart: "He came in and apologized to us. He understands that he made a mistake. You can’t fault him for that. He’s passionate. It was a mistake that any of us could make. You can live with that. He’s out there and giving his all, he just has a lot of passion for the game."
The Celtics traded Marcus Thornton and Cleveland's 2016 first-round pick to the Suns in exchange for Thomas at Thursday's deadline.