Blake Griffin hit Taj Gibson in the head, and then he was forced to hit the showers.
With Chicago leading 57–43 midway through the third quarter, Gibson worked to get a clean look against Griffin in the paint. After a pump fake got Griffin off of his feet, Gibson rose to attempt a layup and took a strong blow across his head from Griffin’s right arm. Replays showed Griffin winding up in an attempt to block the shot and making strong contact, knocking Gibson’s head back.
The officials reviewed the play and assessed a Flagrant Foul 2, which applies to contact deemed “unnecessary and excessive,” and requires an automatic ejection. Griffin departed with 18 points (on 7-of-14 shooting) and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes.
The NBA league office will review the play, as it does with all flagrant foul situations. In this case, the Flagrant Foul 2 designation seemed correct because of the force of Griffin’s contact, his wind-up, and the very real potential for injury.
Paul Gasol scored a game-high 24 points for the Bulls who snapped a three-game losing streak. Griffin’s 18 points led the Clippers. Chicago improved to 12–8 while L.A. fell to 13–10.