LOS ANGELES -- Fred Hoiberg earned the first ejection of his career with just one technical foul. It marked an odd turn of events in a series full of them late in the waning moments of the Chicago Bulls' 102-95 loss to the LA Clippers on Saturday night.
Hoiberg's never-before-seen rage came on the heels of a questionable foul call on Jimmy Butler. With 20.8 seconds left and the Bulls trailing by two points, Butler was called for a foul as the shot clock raced toward zero. The Bulls' bench couldn't believe it. Blake Griffin knocked down both free throws, giving the Clippers a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"I thought Jimmy made a great defensive play," Hoiberg said. "Blake caught it at about the free throw line. And before he put it on the ground, he was at the top of the arc. I thought Jimmy did a good job crawling up into him. I'll have to go back on film and look at it. Jimmy, I thought, battled him and made a heck of a play, but they gave him the call. You got to respect it."
After Dwyane Wade missed a 3-pointer with 13.9 seconds left and Isaiah Canaan was called for a foul, veteran official Marc Davis called a technical foul on Taj Gibson. Seconds later, Hoiberg was whistled for a technical of his own and was ejected after stepping onto the floor. Already in disbelief that Butler had been whistled for a foul, Bulls players and coaches couldn't believe Davis had such a quick whistle at such an emotional time in the game.
Wade explained his feelings inside the frustrated Bulls' locker room:
"As a veteran guy, I was just trying to explain to Marc the situation," Wade said. "It's a very emotional game. You've got two teams giving everything, especially us at that moment; that was a tough call. And at that moment, Marc has to be the bigger person and not walk to the technical fouls. He has to walk away, and that was what I was explaining. As someone who's been in this league for a long time, I understand. You got to give us emotion, you got to give us that. And that's all I was doing. I had a good, respectful conversation at that moment, but the damage was done, for sure, by then.
"But just trying to get our point across for our team. We don't have bad guys. Fred ain't yelling at nobody. He wasn't yelling. I was right there and I barely heard him. So it's just something that Marc has to walk away from."