The Philadelphia 76ers nabbed win number three in their best-of-seven series against the Brooklyn Nets Thursday evening, but the bout was far from a fluid affair. Chippy throughout, the officiating crew had their work cut out for them during the night and were blowing on their whistles like a preteen wielding a straw for spitballs. Easily the most buzzed-about decision by the referees came during the third quarter of the contest when star point guard James Harden was called for a highly questionable flagrant two.
The decision to toss Harden received a significant amount of backlash, with many claiming the act to be inadvertent. During the following morning’s edition of ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith blasted the call, going as far as to deem it the worst he’s ever seen.
“That might be the worst ejection I’ve ever seen in NBA history. A legitimate argument can be made it wasn’t even a foul,” Stephen A. Smith said.
James Harden would also personally address the foul call to the media post-game, stating that he was shocked a whistle was even blown.
“Unacceptable flagrant 2,” James Harden said. “I’m not labeled as a dirty player. I didn’t hit [Royce O’Neale] in the private area… I don’t even think it was a foul… That can’t happen.”
Even with the ejection, the Sixers star would still finish his night off with an impressive stat line of 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists while shooting 53.3% from the field and 42.9% from deep.
Nevertheless, behind MVP-favorite Joel Embiid’s dominance, Philadelphia went on to capture a 102-97 win and, in turn, find themselves up 3-0 with a chance to clinch the series victory in Sunday’s Game 4.
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