MILWAUKEE — The regional rivalry between the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls was renewed on Friday night, when the two Eastern Conference contenders met for the first time this season. With a split crowd reacting to every play, the game didn’t need need any more juice, but it got some in the third quarter when Grayson Allen was ejected for a dangerous foul on Alex Caruso.
After the Bulls forced a turnover, rookie Ayo Dosunmu got out on the fastbreak, but had Pat Connaughton blocking his path to the rim. Instead of trying to challenge him, Dosunmu turned back and dropped the ball off to Caruso who went hard to the basket. As Caruso was in mid-air, Allen came flying in to try and block the shot, but instead grabbed ahold of the Bulls guard and sent him spinning to the ground.
Caruso landed on his side with so much force that he actually bounced off the floor. Some members of the Bulls’ bench got up and ran over to Caruso, but they were just concerned with his safety and there were no further incidents. Caruso stayed down for a few minutes under the care of the Bulls’ medical staff, but was then able to get up on his own and return to the game.
After a review the officials upgraded the foul on Allen to a flagrant 2 and ejected him from the contest. While he didn’t make any particularly egregious contact, it doesn’t take much to make a foul dangerous when someone is in the air and defenseless. And though he’s generally settled down in recent years, Allen isn’t going to get the benefit of the doubt given his history. It’s unclear at this point if Allen will face any additional punishment from the league.
Bulls head coach Billy Donovan, for his part, thinks the league should address the incident.
“It was really bad,” Donovan said. “It was really, really bad. For Alex to be in the air like that for him to take him down like that, it could’ve ended his career. And he has a history of this. That to me was really dangerous, and I really hope the league takes a hard look at something like that because he could’ve really seriously hurt him.”
In the other press conference room, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer defended his player, but didn’t dispute the ejection.
“It’s a hard play,” Budenholzer said. “I think Grayson — nothing malicious, went to block the shot. I think it’s a close call. And they went with flagrant 2 and i’m not gonna disagree. It’s right on the border and that’s the direction they went. Just hope for Caruso to be healthy and fine coming out of it.”
Donovan added that Caruso, who played the remainder of the game, is dealing with a sore wrist, but they don’t know the extent the issue.