After seven NBA seasons without a blemish, veteran Boomers star Joe Ingles has been ejected from a game for the second time in three weeks.
Ingles joined star Utah Jazz teammates Rugby Gobert and Donovan Mitchell plus Indiana Pacers centre Myles Turner in being tossed out with just over four minutes remaining in a 111-100 home defeat on Thursday night.
Gobert and Turner got into a wrestle after the Pacers big-man shoved his rival centre as they ran back down court, first tangling under the basket.
Officials tried to separate the pair while Ingles and Mitchell were among the players that rushed in, with the Australian appearing to make contact with an official while attempting to intervene.
Referees reviewed the melee for several minutes before determining that the Jazz trio and Turner had earned early showers.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder was satisfied there was no bad intent in Ingles’ action.
“I know Joe ran down. I think he bumped into (referee) Ed Malloy, and I thought Ed handled that like that’s a pro ref,” Snyder said.
“They just tried to break it up.
“I think that’s why Joe got kicked out is what I’m saying.
“I didn’t see that as something, just watching the film that Joe was trying to do anything with Ed, and Ed handled it that way.
“But I understand if you make contact with an official that’s the result.”
It’s possible the league will levy fines against the Jazz trio and Turner, as it did earlier in the week when Denver star Nikola Jokic and Miami’s Markieff Morris were involved in an ugly skirmish – although the reigning league MVP was also suspended for one game.
Ingles’ involvement comes after the genial 34-year-old was ejected from a game last month – for the first time in his long career – when officials called a flagrant 2 foul on him over contact on Sacramento Kings guard Davion Mitchell, who was mid-air when attempting a lay-up.
Utah trailed 60-51 at halftime against the Pacers and drew no closer than five points in the fourth quarter, with any comeback hopes dashed when Mitchell, Gobert and Ingles were ejected.
Mitchell blamed the scuffle on built-up frustration over the referees allowing too much contact early in the game.
“That whole thing could have been avoided – just draw the line early, as opposed to letting it build up for the whole game,” he said.
Malcolm Brogdon scored a season-high 30 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Pacers while T.J. McConnell added 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists off the bench.
Turner had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Mitchell scored 26 points for Utah, while Gobert added 19 points and 11 rebounds and Ingles contributed seven points, four rebounds and four assists.