May 19, 2019

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Nets’ G.M. Sean Marks Suspended for Entering the Referees’ Locker Room

Nets’ G.M. Sean Marks Suspended for Entering the Referees’ Locker Room
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The first-round playoff series between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Nets has had close games, flagrant fouls, ejections, trash talking and one of the more unlikely rivalries in memory between a 33-year-old journeyman and the league’s reigning Rookie of the Year.

On Sunday, things took a turn even further toward the bizarre when Sean Marks, the general manager of the Nets, was suspended for one game for entering the referees’ locker room after Saturday’s contentious matchup, which had given Philadelphia a commanding three-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series.

Marks, in his fourth season with the Nets, will miss Game 5, and will pay for the incident both with his paycheck for the day and a $25,000 fine, the league announced Sunday.

The series was expected to lean heavily in Philadelphia’s favor, but the tension ramped up considerably after two crucial incidents: A hard elbow to Jarrett Allen’s face in Game 2, which earned Joel Embiid a flagrant 1 foul — Embiid later admitted that he should have been ejected for the play — and comments from Jared Dudley, a 12-year veteran forward for the Nets, who evaluated the progress of Ben Simmons, Philadelphia’s 22-year-old All-Star, calling his performance in the half-court game “average.”

While Dudley was also complimentary of Simmons’s ability to dominate the game in transition, the “average” comment proved a sticking point for many Sixers players and Simmons, who had recorded a triple-double in a Game 2 win and stepped things up further in Game 3, scoring 31 points while repeatedly taunting Dudley.

In Game 4, things were physical once again between Embiid and Allen, and on a play under the basket in which Embiid appeared to make a clean effort for the ball, the game descended into a fight led mostly by Jimmy Butler of the Sixers and Dudley, both of whom were ejected. On Sunday, the N.B.A. announced Butler had been fined $15,000 for his part in the incident while Dudley was fined $25,000.

Details of what led to Marks entering the referees’ locker room have yet to be revealed, but it is possible he was hoping to protest a play in the final seconds where Philadelphia’s Tobias Harris had appeared to foul Allen in advance of the second-year center’s loss-sealing turnover. It is also possible that Marks was seeking clarification on why neither of Embiid’s run-ins with Allen had been deemed a flagrant 2 (Embiid, who has two flagrant points, would receive a one-game suspension if his total reached four.)

Marks would not be the first person associated with the team to take issue with the officiating in this series, with Spencer Dinwiddie, the team’s star sixth man claiming to have been “fed up” since last season. But a breach in protocol like the one by Marks was highly unusual.

The series will now head back to Philadelphia for Game 5, with Philadelphia just one win short of advancing to the second round. Brooklyn’s lone All-Star, D’Angelo Russell, seemed to think the intensity was unlikely to turn down any time soon.

“You see two teams out there hungry, trying to compete,” Russell said after Saturday’s loss. “They sure as hell don’t want to lose to the Brooklyn Nets, and I think we’ve got a chance to beat the Sixers, so it’s just a high-intensity game and that’s what it’s going to look like.”



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