Fans who viewed Game 4 of the Nets-76ers first-round playoff series witnessed a third-quarter melee between the teams that was triggered by the second hard foul from 76ers center Joel Embiid against Nets center Jarrett Allen in the series. But another confrontation, one that was out of sight, was revealed Sunday: between Nets general manager Sean Marks and Ed Malloy’s officiating crew after the game. The NBA announced a one-game suspension without pay for Marks and a $25,000 fine for entering the off-limits referees’ locker room after Game 4.
The announcement came from NBA League Operations president Byron Spruell, who said Marks will serve his suspension on Tuesday when the Nets face the 76ers in Game 5 at Wells Fargo Center. The 76ers lead the series 3-1.
The Nets issued no statements about the suspension, but Marks obviously was upset that Embiid decked second-year center Allen for the second time in the series. Embiid hit Allen with a left elbow to the mouth in Game 2 and went up to block a layup attempt by Allen in Game 4 with a right arm that came crashing down across Allen’s arms after hitting the ball.
In both instances, Embiid was given a flagrant 1 technical foul because neither was deemed excessively violent after review by the officiating crew. The second one drew a response from Jared Dudley, who challenged Embiid and chest-bumped him. Embiid backed off, but 76ers teammate Jimmy Butler came from behind and pushed Dudley in the back, shoving him into the baseline seats as players from both teams came together in a scrum.
Dudley and Butler were ejected by Malloy “for escalating a situation that was under control,” the referee told a pool reporter. After the game, Dudley said he was upset because Embiid received no fine for his action in Game 2 and laughed about the incident with teammate Ben Simmons during a postgame news conference. The league fined Dudley $25,000 and Butler $15,000, but neither was suspended.
“If you think a team I play on is going to have that, you’ve got another think coming,” Dudley said. “On this team, you stand up when you have to stand up.”
Allen thanked Dudley for coming to his defense but downplayed the effect of Embiid’s foul, saying, “Honestly, I think it looked worse than it was. It was just another hard foul. I think it’s time to move on again.”
After the game, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson took issue with the officiating crew regarding a non-call at the end of the game. Trailing by two, the Nets fed the ball to Allen, who had rolled to the basket after setting a screen. He was impeded by Tobias Harris, who wrapped his right arm around Allen’s waist as he rolled. Then there was contact by Ben Simmons and Harris after Allen received the pass. Simmons wrestled the ball away, the play became a turnover when no foul was called and Harris hit two free throws to clinch it.
Atkinson usually avoids criticism of officials, but he said wrapping a player when he is rolling to the rim was a point of emphasis this season. “There was a clear wrap by Tobias Harris on the roll,” Atkinson said. “I’m just disappointed. How that all of a sudden doesn’t become a foul on a wrap, I just don’t understand. I’ve looked at the clip 10 times. It’s a clear wrap.”
The NBA took no action against Atkinson for his comments. The NBA’s official “Last Two-Minute Report” confirmed Atkinson’s opinion that the officials were incorrect and should have charged Harris with a foul on the play.