With 7:24 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Milwaukee Bucks leading the Washington Wizards by two, Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova was forced to make a game deciding decision.
It all started when Wizards guard John Wall threw a cross-court pass ahead to Bradley Beal, who was on the wing in front of the Bucks bench. Dellavedova was the defender in front of Beal and made the decision to foul and stop a fast break that would have surely ended in a basketball for Washington.
His decision sparked a confrontation and led to his ejection from the game, a contest the Bucks ultimately won, 110-103, at Capital One Arena.
“I saw Wall throwing the ball up to Beal and I tried to run him off the three,” Dellavedova said.
“He decides to drive it, so I tried to hold him up and he either slipped or — because he went down. I was just trying to hold him to prevent him from getting the and-one, and then he just went to the ground.”
Matthew Dellavedova was ejected for this foul on Bradley Beal. pic.twitter.com/8wrXZYTKqX
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 7, 2018
In attempting to wrap up Beal, Dellavedova went high, grabbing the Wizards guard around his chest and shoulders, getting dangerously close to his head and neck. Dellavedova looked apologetic as soon as Beal went down and seemed to attempt to help him up, but Beal popped up on his own to give the Bucks guard a piece of his mind.
That led to a brief scuffle, which included Beal pushing both Dellavedova and the first official to arrive on the scene and Wall also swooping in to get in Dellavedova’s face.
The officials then reviewed the play and assessed Dellavedova with a flagrant-2 foul, ejecting him from the game.
“I understand you want to stop the ball, but there’s a right way and a wrong way,” Bradley Beal said when interviewed after the game.
“There is no place in the game for that. I don’t care, there is a difference between making a play on the ball and wrapping your arms around somebody’s neck. It was what it was. He fouled me and got thrown out for it. I don’t really have an opinion about it. One thing I didn’t like was how the ref went after me versus trying to control him. I have a right to react the way I did.”
Dellavedova said he didn’t expect the ejection that followed. He thought the play might result in a flagrant-1, but wasn’t expecting the flagrant-2. When he learned of the decision on the court, he shook his head before walking off to a deafening chorus of boos.
While Dellavedova felt his intentions weren’t malicious, Wall pointed to Dellavedova’s history of getting entangled in such plays and called him a dirty player.
“Whatever their team can say, other people can vouch for him,” Wall said. “To me, I always thought he was just a dirty player. I give him credit, he plays hard. I take nothing away from him with that, but I just feel like he’s a dirty player. A guy’s going full speed you don’t grab him by his shoulders. You grab him by his waist or whatever else.”