MILWAUKEE -- There were plenty of reasons for the Bucks to become frustrated during the course of their 20-point loss on Monday to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
First, there was the one-sided score that had the Thunder already up by 17 points after just one quarter. Then there was the realization that the inevitable loss was going to significantly harm their playoff chances. Finally, after a few questionable calls by the officials, those factors led to the Bucks losing their cool on the court.
In total, the Bucks were called for five technical fouls, including the ejection of reserve forward Larry Sanders. It was the first time since Dec. 31, 2001 that a Milwaukee team was called for that amount of technicals.
It started in the first quarter when Mike Dunleavy appeared to be on the receiving end of an overly-aggressive approach from Thunder shot-blocking specialist Serge Ibaka. After a free throw attempt, Ibaka stood over the top of Dunleavy's fallen body and appeared to hold him down like an offensive lineman would do to a downed pass rusher. Once Dunleavy was up, he took exception to it, which led Ibaka to grip Dunleavy's arm with his hand. Dunleavy eventually swiped Ibaka's hand away, leading to double technicals. Fans at the Bradley Center booed loudly after replays in the arena showed the events that led to Dunleavy's swipe.
Late in the third quarter, Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook appeared to stop his dribble on his hip only to continue again after a brief pause. Every coach on Milwaukee's bench stood up to protest that a violation should have been called. Though referee Kane Fitzgerald did not see that, he did see Brandon Jennings commit a reaching foul a moment later. That led Bucks coach Scott Skiles to protest and receive a technical foul. Then, Jennings waved his arm at the official in a disgusted manner and was also assessed a technical.
Skiles claims he didn't do anything that should have warranted a technical foul.
"I would imagine my technical would be rescinded (by the NBA)," Skiles said after the game. "I didn't use any profanity, I didn't do anything. I said, Let's go, Kane,' and I got a technical. We talked about it later."
Less than three minutes after those two technicals were called, Sanders received the first of his two. After going for a block on a fast break dunk attempt by Thunder guard Thabo Sefolosha, Sanders stormed the official to complain. That was enough to draw the technical.
Lastly, at the start of the fourth quarter, Sanders picked up another after elbowing Oklahoma City's Nick Collison near the neck. Once Sanders was ejected, he high-fived Bucks fans as he jogged to the locker room.
"It was emotions," Sanders said after the game. "I don't think I responded well. I think it was just an emotional game and I let emotions get the best of me a little bit. It's difficult being a ref. It's difficult to make calls, period. You can't get every call (right)."
The most damaging aspect of the entire night was that it left Milwaukee 1 games out of the playoff race with nine games remaining in the regular season. The Bucks (28-29) trail both New York and Philadelphia by that amount for seventh and eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
However, with a game coming up Wednesday night when the Knicks travel to Milwaukee, the Bucks have a chance to gain a full game in their chase for the postseason. If Milwaukee wins that game, it will hold the tiebreaker advantage over New York for the playoffs should the two teams conclude their regular-season schedules with identical records.
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