With 8:01 remaining in what would be a historically dreadful fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, Portland Trail Blazers forward Ed Davis was ejected for arguing with the officials. He felt that he was fouled on the previous possession when no foul was called. At the time that he left the game, the Blazers led 96-87. After watching his team lose 120-103 from the locker room, Davis laments losing his head:
"My technical was huge. It was a big swing right there. It cost us the game, so I got to learn, though, just to keep my head in those situations and, you know, got to be able to be out there for the team."
Davis’ primary role is to provide help defense and corral rebounds. Without him on the floor, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond took over for the Pistons.
Jackson scored 26 points in the fourth quarter en route to a career-high 40, putting up 24 of those points after Davis left the game. Half of those 24 came on field goals that were within nine feet of the basket. While the Trail Blazers should have been able to find a way to stop him regardless, Davis’ weakside presence was sorely missed.
Drummond, without a strong rebounder to challenge him in the paint, snagged 10 rebounds after Davis was ejected—enough to complete a double-double in just eight minutes if he hadn’t had one already. He finished the game with 29 points and 27 rebounds for his third 20/20 game of the season.
The loss is by no means solely on Davis’ shoulders—that would let too many others off the hook—but his departure was certainly a turning point. These are the learning moments that help young teams grow in the long run, even if taking lumps is painful in the present.