The Atlanta Hawks fell down a virtually insurmountable 3-0 hole Sunday night in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and All-Star big man Al Horford was ejected for elbowing Cavs defensive irritant Matthew Dellavedova in the dome after the Aussie fell into his knee.

Horford insists there was no malicious intent when he dropped the People’s Elbow on Delly, but that the 24-year-old guard needs to learn about the NBA brotherhood and its code.

Dellavedova, you’ll recall, ended Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver’s postseason after inadvertently falling onto his right leg—severely spraining the ankle—in Game 2.

Horford finished with 14 points in 19 minutes of action.

Per the AJC and Akron Beacon Journal:

Q. Do you think you should have been ejected? […] A: “No.”

 

Q. Was there residual anger from way Kyle Korver went out? […] A. “You’re always upset when you lose one of your teammates. It’s the chippiness of it. He’s a player that plays hard. There’s got to be a line at some point. Again, I was in that position, I should’ve handled it better.”

 

Q. Is he dirty? […] A. “He plays hard. He’s a player that plays hard. He’s a competitor. We are out there competing. But he’s gotta learn. He’s only been in this league a couple of years, or whatever, but in the end he’s got to learn it’s a big brotherhood here. Guys look out for each other. I don’t think it was malicious but he has to learn.” […] “He is playing. He is competing. He is out there playing hard. I just think everybody learns. I’ll definitely learn from this and make sure that I’m able to keep my composure and things like this don’t happen. The game before I got hit in the knees and this played over again. It was such a good game out there I was disappointed I wasn’t able to stay out there with my teammates.”

 

Both Kent Bazemore and Shelvin Mack cited Delly’s “track record” just as Horford did. DeMarre Carroll said there’s a difference between diving for a ball and diving at a player’s feet. “There’s gotta be a fine line between competing and being crazy,” Carroll said. LeBron scoffed at all of that. […] “There’s no difference between what Delly did to Kyle Korver last game and 18 guys diving on the floor late in the game tonight,” James said. “It was like six or seven guys diving on the floor for that loose ball. … Just no one got hurt.”