Ime Udoka to Amen Thompson after wing’s ejection: ‘Keep it lower and you won’t get kicked out’

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets head coach Ime Udoka told rookie Amen Thompson how he could have avoided an ejection from Sunday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.

Thompson was given a flagrant 2 foul for shoving Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber near the neck/head area in the team’s overtime loss.

Due to the ejection, Thompson played just 7:44 in the game against Dallas, finishing the matchup with five points, three rebounds and three assists.

It seems like Udoka believes that if the rookie didn’t shove Kleber so close to his head, he may have been able to get away with a lesser foul call and would have been eligible to stay in the game.

After making a push for the play-in tournament in the Western Conference, the Rockets have dropped five games in a row, which has eliminated them from playoff contention.

Houston has made a major leap from last season when it finished with one of the worst records in the NBA, but it is still two games under .500 (38-40) with four games left in the 2023-24 regular season.

Thompson, who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, has appeared in 58 games for Houston this season. He is averaging 9.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game while shooting 52.5 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from beyond the arc.

While the youngster’s 3-point shooting needs to improve, he still has carved out a solid role in the rotation this season, averaging 21.4 minutes per game.

The 2023-24 season is Udoka’s first with the Rockets as their head coach, and he’s certainly helped raise their ceiling after several campaigns of being one of the worst squads in the NBA. On the bright side, those down seasons allowed Houston to add young talent like Alperen Sengun, Thompson, Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. to the roster.

After bringing in veterans Dillon Brooks and Fred VanVleet this past offseason, Houston is starting to look more and more like a team that can contend for a playoff spot in the West in future seasons.

Thompson will look to finish out his rookie season strong – and avoid any more ejections – as the Rockets could still finish over .500 if they win each of their final four games.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball, football and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.