CHICAGO — Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball was ejected for the first time in his career for arguing with the referees late in the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s 114-98 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
With 1:26 remaining in the game, Ball converted a steal into a fast-break attempt and went up for a dunk on the other end of the floor when he was met at the rim by Chicago’s Zach LaVine. Ball lost the ball in the air after the apparent contact but did not draw a foul, which prompted him to swing his arms at the basket stanchion in frustration.
Ball pleaded his case to a referee after the play and made a slapping motion to his own arm when he was given his first technical foul. He continued arguing with the officials while Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan shot the technical free throws, prompting the second technical and an ejection with 1:21 remaining and the Bulls on their way to a victory.
“I just lost my composure pretty much,” Ball said after the game. “It’s just kind of hard when you know it’s a one-on-one and you expect the refs to make the right call and you get smacked on the arm, not even the hand. Just one of them things. We got to just go to the next game.”
Ball finished with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in 36 minutes on Thursday, one game after becoming Charlotte’s all-time leader in triple doubles.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford, who has preached to his team the importance of avoiding technical fouls in the fourth quarter, was not pleased that Ball lost his composure.
“He knows this. We have one rule — no fourth-quarter technicals,” Clifford said after the game. “You can’t take them. That’s inexcusable, because the fourth quarter’s different. He does it because he wants to win, but you can’t take it there.”
Ball said he had a chance to calm down after heading to the locker room and acknowledged he will stay more even-keeled down the stretch.
“It’s just a learning lesson,” Ball said. “I’ll keep it. It’s like — you seen LeBron [James], he wanted the foul. I wanted the foul, too. We human. So I calmed down, took a shower and learned from my mistakes.”