Paul George was unhappy.
Unhappy with the officials. Unhappy with Gerald Henderson.
"S----- officiating job," George said.
The tension began to spill over with 5:08 left in the game. Henderson and George got locked up on a Pacers' possession. Henderson grabbed George as both hit the ground. The referees whistled double technicals. Neither player agreed with the call (see video).
"I didn't think I deserved a tech for the first one, I didn't do anything," Henderson said. "He stood over the top of me, I stood up and walked to the bench. I think as a cop out, they just do a double technical foul. That's just a cop out. I didn't think I deserved anything for that."
George, who plans to ask the league to review his technical fouls, reacted: "I didn't deserve either one of them technicals. Terrible, terrible officiating job."
George said he "didn't retaliate at all" on the first foul. With 3:19 remaining, though, he appeared to deliver an elbow to Henderson's back as they ran down the court.
On the same possession, Henderson drove the basket against George. He threw an elbow on the way, making contact with George in the neck. Henderson was issued a Flagrant 2 foul and automatically ejected. George also was whistled for a technical, his second, and tossed.
"He elbowed me on the play before after he scored, which is fine," Henderson said. "The refs didn't see it initially. But I came off that screen. I knew contact was coming, so I tried to hit him before he hit me. It just so happened that I hit him in the face. I'm looking at the basket. I wasn't trying to hit him in the face."
George saw it differently. Being ejected left him fuming over the calling of the game.
"We were warning them (the refs) all night what he's going to do, stuff he's doing, and they allowed this s--- to go on," George said. "He was throwing jabs, throwing punches at my stomach all night. I didn't retaliate until late in the game when they weren't doing s--- about it. So he pulled me down, I get double tech for doing nothing. And then throw an elbow at my neck, I get another tech for nothing. So [I] really don't have no respect or no -- nothing's there for officiating."
Henderson downplayed the fouls, citing the competitive nature of the matchup. He gave credit to the All-Star, who led all players with 27 points.
"Paul George is a good player," Henderson said. "We got into it before. It's a physical game, those things are going to happen. I respect him as a player. Whatever happened on the court, it is what it is. I'm pissed we lost the game …
"We play similar positions so we've had to guard each other. We probably got into this stuff before but nothing too serious. I'm about playing. I play physical, sometimes scraps are going to happen. It's just the nature of the game."
George's feelings toward Henderson go beyond this game, though.
"For whatever reason, he doesn't like getting scored on by me," George said. "Every time he's at home, I guess that's when he feels confident. He's sweet on the road, but at home is when he gets some nuts."
George tried to temper his reaction on the court with the postseason in mind. There is only one game remaining in the regular season and the Pacers are sitting in the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
"Maybe next year I'll just sit some money aside and I'll have my get-back," he joked. "Maybe that's just what I've got to do. Sit the money that I'm going to be fined, make sure we get out to a hot start so I can afford the games I'm going to be out. I'm just playing. But no, it is what it is. Hopefully the league looks at what happens and they clean that up."
Another matchup between Henderson and George will have to wait until next season.