Did the Sixers decide to answer Eric Bledsoe's trash talk with a hard foul?
Just seconds into Phoenix's 122-96 road victory in Philadelphia on Friday, Sixers rookie center Nerlens Noel hit Bledsoe with a flagrant foul and the two players had to be separated by teammates and officials after Bledsoe took exception to Noel's physicality.
Bledsoe, of course, made national headlines earlier this week when he suggested that the University of Kentucky Wildcats, the NCAA's No. 1 ranked team, could "definitely" beat the winless Sixers in a seven-game series. Bledsoe spent one season at Kentucky before being selected in the first round of the 2010 draft.
"I'm definitely taking Kentucky," Bledsoe told SiriusXM NBA Radio on Wednesday, according to ZagsBlog.com, shortly after Kentucky dominated Kansas this week. "I think Philly would get probably, maybe one game. I know [Sixers fans are] gonna be mad, but I love my Wildcats."
CSNPhilly.com reported that Bledsoe said he was joking during Phoenix's shootaround on Friday.
"I have a lot of respect for NBA players," Bledsoe said. "I was joking around. Obviously I went to Kentucky and then they played good."
Bledsoe told reporters after the game he was informed prior to tip off that the tough treatment was coming, according to the Associated Press.
Noel received his flagrant foul 1 just 30 seconds into the game when he slapped down hard on Bledsoe as he defended a driving attempt in the paint. Noel's swinging left hand appeared to make significant contact with Bledsoe's arms, and Bledsoe went crashing to the court. The flagrant foul 1 designation applies to contact that is deemed "unnecessary" and it does not require an immediate ejection.
Bledsoe remained in the game, finishing with 13 points (on 5-for-8 shooting), five rebounds and seven assists. Isaiah Thomas led Phoenix with 23 points (on 6-for-9 shooting) and eight assists.
Noel, who also attended Kentucky for one season before he was selected in the 2013 lottery, finished with three points (on 1-for-1 shooting), five rebounds and two assists. Michael Carter-Williams paced the Sixers with 18 points (on 6-for-18 shooting), six rebounds and six assists.
Phoenix improved to 8-5. Philadelphia fell to 0-12.