Yet again, Larry Sanders is in conversations for the wrong reasons. The emotional Milwaukee Bucks big man picked up his first ejection of the season Saturday night when he was called for a flagrant 2 foul after elbowing Thunder center Steven Adams in the throat.
This comes one night after Sanders picked up his third technical foul of the year, one he has missed six weeks of, for going at Bulls forward Carlos Boozer after the two got tangled up underneath the basket in Milwaukee’s loss to Chicago.
"It is disturbing," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "He just has to be smarter. You can’t get baited, and you can’t get seduced into that type of activity."
Sanders, who led the NBA with five ejections and was tied for third with 14 technical fouls, again let his emotions get the best of him Saturday night after there was some contact between him and Adams with 6:58 left in the second quarter.
"I watched it at halftime and there was some physical contact, but not to the point to where he should have felt he had to throw an elbow," Drew said. "You can’t get into that type of situation. He has to learn from that."
But Sanders has had many opportunities to learn in the past few years. Eventually he’s going to have to do something about it or these issues could seriously jeopardize his career. From the off-the-court incident at a nightclub earlier this season to the locker room spat with teammate Gary Neal last Saturday in Phoenix, the Bucks have a dilemma on their hands with Sanders.
By giving him a contract extension, Milwaukee committed to working through these issues with the big man. Now the Bucks have to find a way to get through to him.
Giannis against KD: The last three games have been a struggle for Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the rookie seemed particularly engaged against the Thunder.
Why? Well, he was facing his idol, Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant.
After scoring just two points total in his last three games, Antetokounmpo finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks in 38 minutes on Saturday.
"I’m very thrilled," Drew said of the way Antetokounmpo played. "He played with a lot of energy. Playing in a building like this and against a team like this, you have to have energetic guys to compete with. I thought from an energy standpoint, he played with a tremendous amount of energy. He did a good job of rebounding, running the floor, got to the basket and made some very athletic plays.
The 19-year-old also picked up valuable experience trying to guard one of the best offensive players in basketball in Durant.
"You play against a guy like Durant, you have to be thinking, ‘How am I going to defend him on the other end?’ But he took the challenge," Drew said. "It’s great to put him in that situation so he can learn. He has to feel good about how he played tonight."
Henson sits again: Bucks forward John Henson traveled to Oklahoma City and dressed for the game, but missed his seventh consecutive game with a high left ankle sprain.
Without Henson and with Sanders ejected, rookie Miroslav Raduljica played 17 minutes and scored nine points off the bench.