In a game featuring the volatile personality of Knicks veteran Rasheed Wallace, who would have guessed that typically mild-mannered Bulls forward Taj Gibson -- though he plays with exuberance, Gibson is one of the most friendly players in the league -- would get his first career ejection in Saturday night's 93-85 home win over the Knicks?
After committing a foul on Knicks sharpshooter Steve Novak with 3:40 remaining in the second quarter, Gibson had some words for one of the game officials that were deemed over the line, resulting in a technical foul. En route to the bench, as teammate Joakim Noah was set to replace him, Gibson briefly turned back to make another comment, prompting a second technical foul and automatic ejection.
"My second one? I didn't curse or anything like that," he said afterwards. "I just said, 'Are you serious?'"
Apparently that was enough to warrant his ejection -- the referee might see it differently -- but regardless, the already short-handed Bulls, who wouldn't have the services of starting point guard Kirk Hinrich after halftime following a left-elbow injury, managed to gut out a gritty win. Still, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau wasn't pleased, as his team has been racking up more technicals than usual this season, with Joakim Noah entering Saturday tied for the league lead with five on the young campaign.
"We Gibson and Thibodeau talked about it briefly. There were some tough calls that I thought went against him and it's an emotional game, but we have to do better with that. When you get one, you've got to let it go and sometimes that's just the way it goes," the coach said. "The calls are not going to go your way all the time and when they don't go your way, you've got to be able to still get through that and get your job done."
For Gibson's part, he was surprised that he received such a quick hook, especially without a reputation as a ref-baiter.
"It was crazy. I don't know. It was just one of those nights when asking questions wasn't a good thing. I tried to ask questions, but I guess the more you kind of talk to the refs, it gets intense. You've got a lot of different guys complaining about calls. I'm never the type to complain about calls or anything like that. I try to just lead by example and let my game speak for itself. I just overreacted, I guess," he told CSNChicago.com. "The official didn't give me any explanation. He just T'd me up. I thought after one, he was going to say, 'All right, one.' But I think he overreacted by giving me two real quick because he didn't even give me a chance to react. He just gave me one, two. But the second one I didn't say anything. I was just going to sit down. But that's the way the game is. The refs control the game. You can't do no right or no wrong.
"They thought I was Rasheed Wallace," Gibson continued, trying to find some humor in the situation. "I never complain, but hey, there's a first time for everything. But the only thing about was coming into the locker room.
"Rip Hamilton was looking at me laughing like, 'You didn't get your money's worth, at least.' But I just took it and went in the back. It's cool."
Despite not having Gibson in the second half against his hometown team, the Bulls were stout defensively and with the East-leading Knicks going to a small lineup, Thibodeau utilized Luol Deng and reserve Jimmy Butler at the forward positions next to Joakim Noah -- limiting starting power forward Carlos Boozer's playing time, even after he had a solid first half of play -- and a backcourt of hot-shooting Marco Belinelli and backup point guard Nate Robinson to pull out the hard-earned victory.