Things got testy late in the Philadelphia 76ers impressive road win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, when newly minted Cavalier guard Jordan Clarkson took exception to Sixers forward Dario Saric going for an extra bucket rather than dribbling out the clock on an already decided win.
Salty Jordan Clarkson throws ball at Dario Saric for garbage time dunk…LeBron goes at Saric too pic.twitter.com/YBOxlHLlrM
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) March 2, 2018
With the Sixers holding a 105-97 lead and less than 20 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, all that Philly needed to do to secure its ninth win in the last 12 games was just run out the remaining ticks. Instead, Saric took a hit-ahead feed from point guard T.J. McConnell and, with no Cavaliers really hustling to get back on defense because they expected Philly to just dribble it out, he loped into the lane for an uncontested slam.
After the ball dropped through the net, Clarkson grabbed it, threw it off Saric’s back and walked up behind him, seeming interested in making something out of Saric’s discourteous dunk.
Joel Embiid quickly stepped in between them, shepherding Clarkson toward the baseline. LeBron James didn’t appear to appreciate the breach in etiquette, either, as members of both teams woofed at each other while referees and security personnel made sure everyone stayed separated.
Shortly thereafter, Clarkson was T’d up and ejected. Sixers coach Brett Brown subbed Embiid and Saric off the floor for the final few seconds, just to be on the safe side of things, but the last few ticks wound down without incident.
Dario Saric, after staring down Cleveland's bench following a made three in crunch time, gets pegged with a ball by Jordan Clarkson for dunking with time running down. He's a perfect heel.
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) March 2, 2018
In the Sixers’ locker room, the story on offer was that Saric had absolutely no idea he was committing any kind of faux pas by snagging an extra basket in the final seconds, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“He made an honest mistake,” Jerryd Bayless said of his teammate violating an unwritten rule. “He didn’t know any better.”
Saric said his actions weren’t meant to disrespect the Cavs. He saw [Ben] Simmons dunk the ball with 4 minutes, 38 seconds left and wanted to do the same.
“In one way, I want to apologize to them, because I finished that ball,” Saric said. “I think they a little bit overreacted on everything. But OK, I want to apologize to them.”
You’re not going to believe this, but Clarkson didn’t seem particularly receptive to seeing it that way!
After his ejection late in the game Jordan Clarkson responds to why he threw the ball at Dario Šarić pic.twitter.com/niHRke1Ta9
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) March 2, 2018
“If anybody say different, that they wouldn’t have did that, that they’d have did something different, or anything else, they lying,” Clarkson said. “Especially if it was at that [point — he said play] of the game. They know what’s up. That’s it.”
Whether that is, in fact, it remains to be seen; one suspects the league office might not look too kindly at Clarkson deciding to peg a dude because he crossed an invisible line in the sand, and that his foray into dodgeball might wind up costing him a chunk of change. Either way, the most cogent point on the matter seemed (to these ears, at least) to come on the broadcast from color commentator Chris Webber.
“I love it, but this is manufactured anger,” he said. “I love it, but this is fake. This is like a coach getting a technical, trying to pump his team. I hate it when players get righteous at the end of the game. Get righteous in the third quarter and stop ’em from scoring. This isn’t college football. If you’re down 50, I hope you lose by 52, or 53, or 54. This is — so what? Dunk it harder. Say to the crowd, ‘What’s up?’ Send them home crying. This is the professionals.
“And I get it, Clarkson, you’re trying to come over and build some social currency with your team,” Webber continued. “But that’s wack. Win the game.”
These two teams will link up one more time before the end of the season, on April 6. We’ll see if Clarkson’s intent on holding a grudge, and, if he does, if Saric even remembers why he’s mad five weeks from now.
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