It was not a good weekend for the Warriors. They blew two double-digit, fourth-quarter leads in losses to the Magic and more recently, against the Hornets in a 102-100 loss on Saturday.
But in incredibly, that’s just the beginning of Golden State’s concerns at the moment.
Superstar Stephen Curry missed his homecoming in Charlotte because he “wasn’t feeling well” according to the Warriors, who say Curry’s illness isn’t related to Covid-19.
And though Golden State fought hard to be in position to win without their superstar, forward Draymond Green lost his temper — as he’s been known to do — in the closing seconds, and I mean seconds. With less than 10 ticks remaining in the game, he got hot after the referees awarded the Hornets a timeout rather than calling for a crucial jump ball, drawing a double technical foul and an ejection.
The jump ball was crucial, but not as important as the the two free throws awarded to Charlotte after Green’s tantrum. Here’s the video evidence, courtesy of NBC Sports. Note the time and score.
So Green blew it, essentially. Coach Steve Kerr said postgame that “Draymond can’t do that. He knows that. He made a terrible mistake.” Kerr also said, notably, that he thought awarding the Hornets a timeout in the above situation was a questionable call, especially when he tried and failed to get a timeout before Brad Wanamaker was tied up by LaMelo Ball a play earlier.
San Francisco Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins questions the referees much more than that, and much more than Green, in his Sunday musings. Here’s part of what he said about the incident, calling the referees overly sensitive, to say the least.
Far more damaging than incensed players blowing off steam, NBA referees have decided they’re more important than the game.
Great. We love watching you guys deal out technical fouls. Go ahead and eject the crucial players, and we can really settle in while your pitiful sensitivity changes everything. We’re so very devastated that your feelings got hurt.Bruce Jenkins/San Francisco Chronicle
Damn, Bruce, tell ’em how you really feel. I do agree, from the video above, it looked like the second technical could have been avoided, with Green backed away from the referees significantly after earning tech No. 1.
Jenkins also wrote that an ejection-worthy reaction from a player should be obvious to all observers. It wasn’t obvious what Green did until looking at the tape. Per The Athletic, Green simply blew off some steam with words, as Jenkins alluded to.
At some point in the ensuing argument, Green is called for an initial technical. The pool report said Green was assessed the tech “when he directed profanity at his opponent,” though, again, video only seems to show him exuding displeasure toward the referees. He continues to dispute the call, clearly stating a few times “fuck outta here!” The officials give him a second technical, ejecting him.The Athletic/Anthony Slater
So the pool report said one thing, but the video tells another story. That doesn’t help the referees’ cause.
One more passage from Jenkins’ column. Jenkins has been around the NBA longer than most, and he points to how business on the court was done in the past, with officials putting up with pouting players for the real victims from all of this: the fans.
Today’s refs, many of whom appear to be assembly line-manufactured robots, have no idea of the league’s history and lessons that should have been learned. It’s filled with superstars like Rick Barry and Oscar Robertson, who routinely complained to the referees and could be decidedly overbearing in the process. Not a good look — and you bet profanity was involved — but the refs let it go. What’s the harm? The players got over it, and the fans got what they came to see.Bruce Jenkins/San Francisco Chronicle
So while Green definitely messed up — because after that first technical, that’s when you’ve got to slow your roll a bit more than he did — I have to agree with Jenkins. Sometimes it seems that players complain to referees too much, but it’s true: the NBA is nothing without its players on the floor, and unless the behavior is truly abhorrent, perhaps swallow that whistle and let the game go on.
But the reality is the Warriors should have won this game, and they didn’t. They had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and blew it, just as they did in Orlando. This time, they had no Curry, but regardless, had they won those two games, their record would be at 18-13 with four consecutive wins.
As it is, they are still hovering right around the .500 mark at 16-15, with two tough road games against the Knicks and Pacers, two clubs they’ve already lost to, on the horizon, possibly without Curry in the lineup. Adding insult to injury, I think the team is playing pretty damn well right now, weirdly. They ran into a hot Magic team and played well enough to beat the Hornets despite the absence of their superstar. The club lost to the Magic and Hornets by a combined six points, adding more sting to the situation.
Well, there’s at least one thing you can say about this year’s Warriors squad: it’s rarely boring. Next up, the Knicks on Tuesday, when the club hopes to have Curry back healthy and avoid any more ‘pitiful sensitivity’ from the referees.
Here’s a look at some stats from the loss, per the Warriors’ Twitter account. Note yet another fine game from guard Kelly Oubre Jr.
(Photo credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports)