In the fourth quarter of Friday night’s Jazz win over the Timberwolves, Jeff Teague tracked Ricky Rubio in transition up the left sideline and randomly checked him into the row of courtside seats. The penalty for Teague was a scolding from Jazz forward Jae Crowder, and a Flagrant 2 foul, and an ejection, with five minutes left in what was then a nine-point game.
However you happen to feel about the Timberwolves, or the Jazz, or Jeff Teague, or Grim And Gritty Ricky Rubio, this was not, like, especially smart, except to the extent that the Wolves are 6.2 points per 100 possessions better with Tyus Jones, Teague’s backup, on the floor than when he’s off. The Wolves were already shorthanded in the second half, operating without Karl-Anthony Towns, who’d been ejected after picking up a pair of technical fouls in the first half. The first came after some extracurricular contact with Crowder; the second came when Towns barked at referee Kane Fitzgerald after scoring inside less than a minute before halftime:
Fitzgerald told ESPN Towns had been bitching about calls for several plays, and his second tech was the consequence. The Wolves were of course already operating without Jimmy Butler, who’ll be out for the next several weeks. What I’m saying is, Teague’s violent outburst was poorly timed: if it was frustration, it was a costly release, and one that immediately benefited the Jazz; if it was in any way calculated, the underlying math was ridiculous: I’m not gonna let the third-best player on the 10th-best team in my conference just, umm, dribble up the sideline like that, victory be damned!
The ejections ultimately torpedoed Minnesota’s waning chances at a late comeback, but, on the plus side, Teague’s earned an attaboy from Butler, who ended a two year absence from Twitter to applaud his teammate’s act of dipshit petulance:
What I like to see is a teammate disqualifying himself by lashing out in frustration in the late stages of a loss that drops my team from the third seed to the sixth seed in the conference. A couple minutes later, when Tom Thibodeau and Crowder were assessed technical fouls for shouting at each other by the sidelines, Butler went back in:
Which, of course, drew a response from Crowder. Before you start picturing these two circling each other with switch blades, know that they were college teammates and are friends, and Crowder admitted after the game that it was all in good fun:
These last weeks of regular season basketball are going to be tense and tight and fun. The win Friday night brought Utah to within just four games of the Western Conference’s third seed—that playoff pack is tightening by the day. I’m not sure if Teague’s temper tantrum counts as playoff intensity, but by-God playoff intensity should be a feature of a great many contests out west as the season winds down. Maybe the Wolves ought to think about handling it a little better!