Isaiah Thomas’ impressive Boston Celtics debut didn’t have the ending the newly acquired point guard was hoping for.
Thomas scored 21 points in 25 minutes in Sunday’s 118-111 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers but was ejected with five minutes to play in regulation after arguing a call with referee Tony Brothers.
Thomas was hit was two technicals for his post-whistle antics, one for slamming down the ball and another for throwing/rolling it in Brothers’ direction, according to Celtics coach Brad Stevens. The two techs equaled Thomas’ season total entering Sunday.
“Obviously, you need scorers on the floor late in the game,” Stevens told reporters after the game. “But that was the call that was made. We’ve got to do a better job of handling our emotions, and we’ve got to do a better job of making sure that we don’t let (the Lakers) get in the rhythm they got in.”
Thomas’ ejection changed the course of the game. L.A. quickly built a 10-point lead and appeared set to cruise to victory until a late Boston rally forced overtime. With Thomas in the locker room, the Celtics were outscored 12-5 in the five-minute extra session.
“He’s got to be there at the end,” Stevens said. “That’s No. 1. He does a lot of good things for our team; he’s a good player. And he knows that. He said something to the team in the locker room. He seems like an accountable guy. … But we’re going to need him. We’re going to need everyone on board, especially when we’re shorthanded.”
Thomas’ teammates accepted his apology.
“You can’t fault him for that,” said point guard Marcus Smart, who also was not available in overtime after fouling out. “He’s passionate. It’s a mistake anyone else could make.”
Evan Turner, who was tossed during the preseason for arguing with a ref, took it a step further.
“He didn’t deserve to get ejected,” Turner said, via MassLive.com’s Jay King.
Ejection aside, it was a promising first game in green for Thomas, who will try to replicate that production Monday against his former team, the Phoenix Suns.
Thumbnail photo Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports Images