By Ben Golliver
Larry Sanders has had his share of incidents with officials this season, but even his harshest critics would agree this one wasn't his fault.
In the opening seconds of Milwaukee's 131-102 blowout home win over Charlotte on Monday, Sanders decked referee Bill Kennedy with a right elbow to the face as he came down from winning the opening tip. Kennedy fell backwards onto his back and stumbled trying to get back up, holding his head in pain. The game was briefly delayed but Kennedy, a 15-year veteran, was able to continue.
Sanders, 24, is tied for the league lead with 14 technical fouls this season and he's been ejected on numerous occasions, including a memorable incident in March when he flashed the "thumbs up" sign to all three referees on his way off of the court. Sanders was also fined $50,000 for publicly criticizing the officiating after a loss to the Heat.
Kennedy, meanwhile, was caught on a hot mic earlier this season telling Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich that he was "stalling" the game to allow time for television commercials.
Milwaukee, the Eastern Conference's No. 8 seed, improved its record to 36-37 with the win. Sanders led the way with a team-high 24 points (on 11-for-19 shooting) and 13 rebounds.