Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic was ejected early in the third quarter of Sunday's 124-97 win at the Cleveland Cavaliers after being called for a flagrant foul 2.
Following a lengthy replay review, the officials ruled that Doncic made "an aggressive strike to the groin area" of Cavs guard Collin Sexton, justifying the flagrant 2 ruling. The incident occurred when Doncic and Sexton were battling for rebounding position with 10:05 remaining in the first half.
"After I saw the video, I knew I hit him, but it wasn't nothing on purpose," said Doncic, who had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists before being ejected. "I think that kind of stuff happens a lot in games, but I don't know. That's my explanation. It obviously wasn't on purpose. It was just two guys fighting for a rebound, I guess."
On the court, Doncic responded to the ruling with wide eyes, indicating surprise. He laughed as he exited the floor.
Doncic said after the game that he thought the review was to determine whether his foul occurred before the shot clock violation.
"That's what I thought they were looking at," Doncic said. "I was really surprised when they called a flagrant 2."
Sexton said he did not believe Doncic had any malicious intent on the play.
"It was just a boxout play," Sexton said. "Usually, whenever someone is handchecking, then you punch down or swing down. It was just in the groin, but it's all good."
The flagrant 2 does not count toward Doncic's technical foul total. He has 15 technical fouls this season, one shy of an automatic one-game suspension.
It was the second time Doncic had been ejected in a five-game span. He got called for two technical fouls in a May 2 loss to the Sacramento Kings, with the second one called with 31 seconds remaining, triggering the ejection.
The Mavs had a 68-59 lead after Sexton hit the pair of free throws from Doncic's flagrant foul. They immediately went on a 30-15 run after that.
"Unfortunate, but it sparked our guys," said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, who declined to comment specifically on the play in question, saying he hadn't seen a clear replay. "We did a good job finishing the game off."