Knicks’ Josh Hart ejected from Bulls matchup after kick to head of Javonte Green

CHICAGO — A flying leg kick — whether intentional or night — sent Josh Hart to the locker room early and permanently in the Knicks’ 108-100 loss Friday night to the Bulls. 

Hart, the team’s glue guy, was tossed for a Flagrant 2 foul with 34.1 seconds left in the first quarter.

The forward was stripped on a drive and, while midair, connected his foot on the side of Chicago’s Javonte Green head. 

Tom Thibodeau said he was informed by the referees that they viewed the kick as intentional. Nevertheless, official Scott Foster said “intent was not a criteria.” 

New York Knicks Josh Hart was ejected from the game after kicking Chicago Bulls Javonte Green the head during the first quarter. AP
New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) kicks Chicago Bulls guard Javonte Green (24) in the head and was ejected from the game during the first quarter at United Center. David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

“However, wind up, impact and follow through, potential for injury, whether the act was a non-basketball play, and location of the contact as well as whether we thought it was a reckless act are all the criteria that we felt were met for this decision,” Foster said to a pool reporter. 

Foster, no stranger to controversy and quick triggers, initially gave Hart a technical.

The Flagrant Foul was ruled after a video review and consensus from all three officials, according to Foster. 

“We understood the impact of our decision on the game so we took our time with it,” Foster said. 

Hart protested to Foster in calm shock before retreating to the locker room after his shortest appearance (11 minutes) since he was ejected in the first quarter against the Clippers on Dec. 16. 

New York Knicks’ Josh Hart (3) walks off the court after being ejected from the game against the Chicago Bulls during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Friday, April 5, 2024. AP

Replays didn’t give a clear indication that Hart’s kick was purposeful.

Rather, it appeared Hart was attempting to maintain his balance and the boot was inadvertent.

At best, it was a close judgment call, and it hurt the Knicks. 

They struggled to find any help offensively for Brunson and were dominated on the glass — two areas that Hart could’ve assisted. 

“He’s a key player particularly when teams are loading up on Jalen,” Thibodeau said. “We can’t afford to do that. There’s a fine line. Josh has been terrific for us. But our margin of error is very tight right now. We need to get past any distractions. It’s a tough call. But it’s tougher to lose it. But it is what it is. We got to learn from it.” 

Asked what the refs told him about the ejection, Thibodeau said, “They said they had to do it.” 

“By rule we considered the act unnecessary and excessive, therefore it’s a flagrant foul penalty 2,” Foster added. 

Without Hart, Miles McBride started the second half and finished with 19 points in 38 minutes on 6 of 11 shooting.

Hart was coming off one of his best games of the season Thursday, when he scored 31 points in a victory over the Kings. 

Green wasn’t fazed by the kick. He scored 25 points off the bench and even completed a double-pump reverse dunk in the second quarter.

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