BOSTON — Kemba Walker was called for two technical fouls and ejected for the first time in his NBA career as part of a chaotic sequence at the 5:49 mark of the third quarter of Boston’s 129-114 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
“I thought I was being nice,” Walker said with a smile afterward. “I thought the ref missed the call. I voiced my opinion, and the rest is history.”
The call Walker was referring to was a bone-crunching moving screen set on him by Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge — one that sent Walker flying to the ground in front of rookie referee Evan Scott, moments before Celtics center Daniel Theis fouled Spurs guard Derrick White.
After Walker peeled himself off the ground, he turned to Scott and began shouting at him, causing Scott to call him for the first technical. Walker then appeared to say, “That was a f—ing foul, man,” causing Scott to whistle him for a second technical in a matter of seconds, and eject him from the game.
“I don’t know,” Walker said, when asked if he’d done more than that in the past without being ejected. “I guess he felt I said a little bit too much.
“That’s his choice. It’s on those guys to make a decision, and he made it.”
Speaking to a pool reporter after the game, crew chief Rodney Mott said it was determined the screen was a legal play by Aldridge, and that Walker received both the first and second technicals for using profanity toward a referee.
“Per rule, Kemba Walker used profanity towards an official, which led to the first technical foul,” Mott said.
“He continued to use profanity and was given a second technical foul.”
Generally, when a referee chooses to give a player a technical foul, they allow there to be a bit of a cooling off period before considering whether to call a second one. In this instance, Walker was hit with both technicals in a matter of seconds — essentially the time it took him to say one more sentence.
It felt unusually fast in the moment for a player to get ejected — and doubly so considering Walker, who typically is pretty mild-mannered, was the player ejected.
He said later it was the first time he’d ever been ejected in his entire life. And, when asked if he thought he deserved more leeway in such a situation because of his reputation, he agreed.
“I mean, it’s the first time I’ve been ejected in my whole life,” Walker said. “I am a two-time sportsmanship award winner as well. So maybe I should get a little leeway. I watch a lot of basketball. I’ve seen other guys doing a lot worse.
“But like I said, the choice was his. He made it. He got me out of there, and what can I do? Really just forget about it at this point. We lost, I got ejected, and we have another one tomorrow. Just try to go out there tomorrow and see what we can do against a very tough team and try to get a win.”
Walker’s ejection prompted a furious reaction from Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who was hit with a technical of his own — this time by fellow referee Tyler Ford.
That alone would have been an eventful night. But, in the wake of all this happening, a fan hurled a can of beer onto the court, with it going right over the Spurs’ bench and landing at Spurs center Jakob Poeltl’s feet.
“I don’t know why they have beer cans. That’s one of the dumbest things ever.”
Spurs guard Lonnie Walker said, “It was pretty much right in front of Jakob’s shoes. It landed right in front of his shoes and bounced off. It was a beer can or something. That’s just not cool.
“I mean, it happens. Those are fans. You can’t control what they’re going to do. Just thank God nothing happened to one of us or one of the other players.”
Stevens said he apologized to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after the game.
“I’m sure the Celtics have already addressed this as an organization, but if not, I apologize to the Spurs for what happened out of the stands, and that can being thrown,” Stevens said. “I told Pop after the game I’m really sorry that they had to experience that.
“I hope that person’s not allowed in an NBA arena again.”
The Celtics said the fan was immediately identified and arrested.
Boston never led, as the Spurs scored the first eight points and jumped out to a 22-3 lead in the first quarter. But when the three technicals and the foul on Theis were called, Boston had opened the second half by cutting an 18-point deficit to 76-69 on a layup by Jayson Tatum at the 6:09 mark of the third quarter.
But after it, San Antonio made four of the five free throws they were granted during the dead ball situation, igniting a 17-3 run that allowed the Spurs to once again extend their lead, and then put the game away for good.
“I don’t remember the exact sequence after that, but I think it was more of the same from the first half after that,” said Gordon Hayward. “They were hitting shots, we weren’t, we weren’t getting the stops we needed, so defensively we just have to be better.”
Boston not only lost two games in a row, but it never led in either of them. The Celtics are hoping that changes Thursday in Philadelphia, where they take on their forever rivals, the Philadelphia 76ers, who will be without star center Joel Embiid due to the dislocated left ring finger he suffered in Monday night’s win against Oklahoma City.
“After the way we played today and last game, I know I can’t wait to play tomorrow,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said. “Just [hope to] have a better game and compete better.”