BOSTON -- Celtics star Jayson Tatum did not believe his actions merited a second technical foul, and an ejection, in the closing moments of the third quarter of Boston's 125-119 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night at TD Garden.
"I was extremely surprised," Tatum said of the ejection. "I mean, y'all saw what happened. Might not know what I said, but I mean, I guess whatever I said doesn't matter at this point. I don't agree with that. One of the assistant coaches was there with me, doesn't agree. But it doesn't really matter, right? ... When they throw you out, they throw you out.
"Even if I was right, you know, they could go back and talk about it after the game. It's not like we get that game back; I don't get that time back. It's unfortunate, but like I said, I can't change what happened. Just how players compete and affect the game. The refs have an effect on the game. So they threw me out, and right or wrong, it's their word against ours. But I can't get that time back."
Tatum was ejected by referee Nick Buchert with 2.1 seconds remaining in the third. He had been called for an offensive foul against 76ers forward Robert Covington that was reviewed by the officials and upgraded to a flagrant foul 1.
According to a pool report with crew chief Bill Kennedy, Tatum did a couple of things that merited the ejection.
"Following a loose ball foul that was called on Jayson, Jayson continued to complain and was asked multiple times to head to his bench," Kennedy said. "He continued to complain about the foul called on the floor and overtly gestures toward the officials and was assessed a second technical foul."
Tatum, though, appeared to be having a conversation with Kennedy when he was ejected. As that was happening, both Buchert and Phenizee Ransom motioned to eject him at the same time, leaving both Tatum and Celtics assistant coach Charles Lee with confused looks on their faces.
After a few moments, Tatum turned and walked off the court.
"They were ready to throw me out," Tatum said with a smile, when asked if he had cursed in the lead-up to his second technical. "No, I didn't. I didn't say a cuss word.
"Me and Bill were having a conversation, and the other two refs -- again, like I said, refs can have an effect in the game. They do have an effect on the game, on the outcome."
While the outcome went in Boston's favor -- on a night when Philadelphia hung around despite being without reigning MVP Joel Embiid, star guard Tyrese Maxey, both sidelined with illnesses, and starter Nicolas Batum with a finger injury -- Tatum, who finished with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in 27 minutes, didn't believe it was fair.
"I don't agree with it," he said. "I've been in the league long enough. I've seen a lot worse behavior, reactions, get tolerated a lot longer. So for those two to throw me out the game, I was shocked. It's like, you always say 'Get your money's worth' when you get fined for these techs, and I definitely did not get my money's worth to get thrown out the game tonight."
Tatum was happy, however, that Boston managed to win without him. Playing against the short-handed 76ers, who were led by 26 points from Patrick Beverley, the Celtics got 10 points in the fourth quarter from Payton Pritchard to pull out a victory.
"Everybody stepped up," Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. "That's just kind of the team that we have. Credit to them. I thought they did a great job executing on both ends of the floor. I thought the guys just did what they had to do to win."
On the other side, the 76ers were pleased with the effort despite being down so much manpower. Beverley was one of just several players to play well for Philadelphia, which gets four days off before Wednesday's game against the Washington Wizards.
"You got to go play the game, and you want to try to play it the right way," Sixers coach Nick Nurse said. "You want to play hard and you want to execute and you want to just give everything you got. ... That's what our guys did. And hopefully it'll give some of these guys some confidence.
"Glad we got a little break here. Gonna need a couple days to get everybody healthy, and we're gonna need a couple days of practice and then we got a big month of December coming at us."
The Sixers could have Kelly Oubre Jr. back in Washington. Nurse said the team believes he will be available to practice fully Monday, paving the way for his potential return.
For Boston, meanwhile, December will begin with a game Monday in Indianapolis against the Pacers to kick off the in-season tournament quarterfinals -- a game that could also see the return of Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis, who has been out for a week with a calf injury.
Tatum's weekend, however, started early. At the end of his news conference, he was asked what he did to cool down after he got ejected.
"Again, I wasn't that f---ing mad," he said with a smile and a laugh. "Don't put that narrative out there. I didn't throw nothing. I said what I said. There was no magic words; assistant coach was right there. ... I don't know. Maybe they didn't want me to play tonight. They was eager to get me out there.
"[After I was ejected] I walked back calmly. I sat in my chair, got some ice. I was not mad. I didn't throw anything. ... It was like a joke. I had to laugh it off. So no, I ain't crying, throw anything. I got my ice, watched the rest of the game, watched us win."