As the final minutes wound down to an unceremonious blowout, the Lakers' frustration reached the boiling point.
You know, the point when a skirmish ensues, an ejection quickly follows, and then the offending party punches a chair and pulls off his jersey.
We've seen this episode play out before. Last postseason, Lakers center Andrew Bynum capped off a four-game sweep at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks by delivering a vicious blow to J.J. Barea while in the air and then yanking his jersey. In Game 2, Lakers forward Metta World Peace clotheslined Barea in the final moments of a double-digit loss.
The incident this time, in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against Oklahoma City, didn't involve Bynum. He remained on the bench so he could rest up for Game 2. Surprisingly, it didn't include World Peace, who mostly showed restraint in his reunion with the Thunder nearly three weeks after delivering a vicious elbow to James Harden that sparked a seven-game suspension. The offending party came in the form of an unassuming and seldom-used forward who appeared in the Lakers' 119-90 loss Monday for four minutes.
Ebanks mixed it up in a loose ball scrum. He then shoved Thunder reserve guard Royal Ivey with both hands. The jawing led to both earning technical fouls. Ebanks then continued to argue with the officials, earning an ejection. Instead of walking straight to the tunnel to exit, however, he punched a chair and then tore off his jersey, an apparent prerequisite for the purple-and-gold in blowout losses.
It's surprising that Ebanks was the offending party. In his second year in the league, the Lakers view him as a quiet kid. They also see him as a hard worker who's shown incremental albeit unspectacular growth when he received starting gigs due to World Peace's suspension and Kobe Bryant's shin injury. It's also disappointing Ebanks did this. For someone who's entering free agency on a team looking to make changes, this surely can't help his cause.
"Young fella might pay for it in his pocket," Lakers Coach Mike Brown told reporters after the game, referencing a possible fine for the tantrum. "The league will do whatever they need to do. Those are times you need to keep your cool."