Isaiah Thomas found himself in an unfamiliar place in the closing minutes of Boston’s 105-95 win at Miami - in the locker room as a spectator after being ejected.
Thomas, who finished with 23 points - 10 of which came in the fourth - was whistled for a flagrant-2 foul which is an automatic ejection, after his elbow landed in the face of Miami’s Justise Winslow with 3:02 to play.
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“Just a regular basketball move I do every game,” Thomas said after the win. “It just happened to connect. I don’t mess with elbows. Im far from a dirty player. It sucks the NBA makes those type of calls.”
Thomas said the lead official Tony Brothers didn’t think it was a flagrant-2 foul, but the decision was ultimately made by the NBA’s replay center in Secaucus, N.J.
“He (Brothers) has to to go off of what they say,” Thomas said. “I’m happy we won, but disappointed they kicked me out. There’s no reason for that.”
The Heat immediately began chipping away at Boston’s double-digit lead only for Boston to get a slew of clutch plays from Al Horford to secure the victory.
“We did a good job of moving on to the next play, try and finish the game,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder.
Thomas’ Flagrant-2 came after a Flagrant-1 penalty was called against Hassan Whiteside when he landed an elbow to Kelly Olynyk’s chin.
The big difference between the two calls was Olnyk went down and got back up soon, while the blow Winslow took resulted in a cut under his eye.
Thomas believes that might have been a factor in the Flagrant-2 penalty being called against him.
“Maybe because they saw the blood,” Thomas said.
But the one upside is that it did allow someone other than Thomas to deliver in the fourth quarter which is when he’s typically the best player on the floor.
Even though he was off the floor for the final three-plus minutes of the game, Thomas still finished with 10 fourth-quarter points.
“I like the fourth quarter and my teammates put me in position to be successful in that quarter and be aggressive and make plays,” Thomas said. “My job is, especially when we’re up, is control the game and make the right play.”