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Hawks’ victory vs. Bulls marred by rookie Trae Young’s controversial ejection

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young reacts after being called on his second technical foul against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, March 3, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

It would have been an afterthought of a game on a Sunday in which NBA playoff contenders jockeyed for position, but the Bulls’ 123-118 loss to the Hawks at the United Center stole a great deal of attention because of the strange, seemingly reactionary ejection of rookie standout Trae Young.

Double technicals were handed out to the Hawks’ Young and Bulls guard Kris Dunn when the two had a minor bump-and-shove incident heading off the court after the first quarter. It was reasonable enough, although Young’s bump had been tiny and Dunn’s shove far more demonstrative.

Young — who scored 49 points in the Hawks’ four-overtime loss to the Bulls on Friday in Atlanta, the first game of a rare back-to-back — later made a 30-foot three-pointer for a 78-62 lead, put his hands on his hips and engaged in what appeared to be a tame celebration at Dunn’s expense.

Just like that, he was sent to the showers.

‘‘I play with a lot of flair, a lot of energy, emotion and have fun,’’ Young said. ‘‘I just hit a shot, and I just looked in the arena. I didn’t say anything; I just looked.”

Members of both teams disagreed with the officials, with Dunn saying he hadn’t even realized Young gestured in his direction.

‘‘I don’t feel he should’ve been ejected, to be honest,’’ Dunn said.

Former NBA star Reggie Miller, one of the great trash-talkers of all time, tweeted that the game has become ‘‘so damn soft and sensitive.’’

‘‘They said he was talking,’’ Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. ‘‘It’s bothersome because it’s the NBA; guys talk. I didn’t think there was anything malicious that occurred.’’

Crew chief Mark Ayotte drew a distinction between celebrating, which is ‘‘not directed at an opponent,’’ and taunting.

‘‘After [Young] made the jump shot, he stared down his opponent and was issued a taunting technical foul for his second [technical] and an ejection,’’ Ayotte said.

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Who’s on first?

The Bulls likely were going to lose anyway, but the communication gaffe with which they ended the game was a bad look for coach Jim Boylen.

With 5.3 seconds left, the Hawks leading 121-118 and guard Zach LaVine at the free-throw line preparing to shoot his second shot, Boylen took out center Robin Lopez and sent in guard Shaquille Harrison. That left 6-5 Wayne Selden Jr. at the bottom of the lane to battle against 7-1 Hawks center Alex Len for a rebound.

Boylen said his plan was for LaVine to make the shot, so the Bulls could set up defensively and go for a steal, but LaVine missed on purpose. To the surprise of no one, Len easily grabbed the rebound.

‘‘We weren’t on the same page communication-wise,’’ Selden said. ‘‘I didn’t really know what to do.’’

Everybody in

Bulls reserve guard Antonio Blakeney led a comeback effort with 13 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 17 overall, his high game since mid-November.

Reserve center Cristiano Felicio scored a season-high 10 points.