Clippers Vs. Timberwolves - Technically, It's a Foul

Mar 5, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) looks on during the second half against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. The Timberwolves won 95-94. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

So I went back and watched the end of the Clippers-Timberwolves games on the DVR. It's amazing how many opportunities the Clippers wasted in those final four minutes.

I watched the two technical fouls with particular interest -- or I watched what you could see on the Clippers broadcast, and there wasn't much there. I'll say this -- it seems pretty clear that neither Kenyon Martin nor Blake Griffin knew that they were crossing a line. Both situations occurred during a dead ball, not in the heat of the moment at all. In Martin's case it was between two Chris Paul free throws. Referee Ken Mauer and Paul have some sort of a conversation after the first free throw, about what I have no idea, and Martin decides to chime in just as Mauer is giving the Paul to ball for his second shot. Mauer didn't like what Martin said and T'd him up.

Similarly, the second technical occurred long after Blake Griffin and Luke Ridnour had become disentangled under the Clippers basket. As the broadcast is going to commercial, you can hear a cheer from the Minnesota crowd, which is when Griffin got booked, but the camera isn't showing Griffin at that point. They later showed a replay in which Griffin said something to Mauer as he was walking back to the bench during the timeout, and that was that.

Usually referees don't like being shown up in an overly demonstrative manner by players. Clearly that wasn't the problem here. Neither Martin nor Griffin so much as lifted a finger or even looked particularly cross -- they earned their punishment strictly by what they said, whatever it was.

As a player, you have to know who you're dealing with. Ken Mauer, who doled out both of these T's, is the same guy that handed out 5 technicals in 10 seconds to the Timberwolves in a game last season -- maybe it's just the winter weather that puts him in a bad mood. This is also the same guy who was quoted about technical fouls in Slam Magazine last year:

Ken Mauer, who's entering his 25th season as an NBA referee, says finding resolution to a confrontation before it reaches the ‘technical' stage is paramount. "If it's something where I can say to the player before he overreacts, ‘Talk to me, c'mon, talk to me,' now we're talking," Mauer says at the NBA referees' annual meeting in Jersey City, NJ, in mid-September. "I avoid an overreaction; therefore, it didn't escalate."

In this case, it seems they were talking, no one overreacted -- and then Mauer escalated it.

Particularly striking is the reaction of Mauer after the Martin technical. Ridnour makes his technical free throw, they come back to take Paul's second shot, and Martin says something that makes Mauer laugh. Glad we're all chummy -- now that you've handed out a free point to the winning team in a one point game.

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