Nick FriedellESPN Staff WriterClose
- Nick Friedell is the Chicago Bulls beat reporter for ESPN Chicago. Friedell is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and joined ESPNChicago.com for its launch in April 2009.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr was ejected from Wednesday’s 129-107 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers after arguing with official Kenny Mauer when a Draymond Green common foul was upgraded to a flagrant foul 1 late in the fourth quarter.
The play in question occurred with 3 minutes, 54 seconds left in regulation and the Warriors trailing 110-103. Green fouled Blazers big man Zach Collins as he was going up to the rim. After the play, officials gathered to review the play and make the upgrade to the more severe foul.
That’s when Kerr tossed his clipboard and launched into an expletive-filled defense of Green to Mauer. Kerr, who playfully threw out a couple more expletives on his way to meet with reporters after the game, said he still couldn’t believe the review occurred in the first place.
“I was just shocked that it was called a flagrant foul,” Kerr said. “That was head-scratching that could be called a flagrant foul. I mean, the guy’s going to go up for a dunk, you got to make sure he doesn’t dunk it. So I told Kenny I beg to differ.”
Warriors star Kevin Durant had to hold Kerr back after the ejection, and Green was whistled for his own technical foul. Blazers guard Damian Lillard hit all three technical free throws, and Collins hit the two free throws from the flagrant foul. With Portland retaining possession of the ball, Blazers forward Jake Layman knocked down a 3-pointer, completing an 8-0 swing of momentum in the span of 20 seconds and ending any hopes of a Warriors comeback on a night when they were playing short-handed without veterans Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins, all of whom were sitting out to rest.
Green expressed frustration with how he is officiated, after watching the Blazers outscore the Warriors 35-12 in the fourth quarter.
“I got a lot of ball,” Green said about the play for which he was assessed a flagrant foul. “I don’t know. It’s the Draymond rule.”
Green said he appreciated the way Kerr stood up for him at the end of the game.
“I loved that too,” Green said. “That was amazing. It’s great. He set the tone for us to close the game the way we did. It was good. I got a tech also for standing there; that probably should be a delay of game, not a tech. You can’t give somebody a tech because they’re standing there. That’s a delay of game. But whatever. Probably a Draymond Green rule too.”
Green, who has been among the league leaders in technical fouls for several years and has racked up 11 this season, isn’t the only one who thinks he is officiated differently than others in the league.
“Honestly, I think that has something to do with it,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “I looked at the replay of that play and the amount of ball that he got. I understand how they classify stuff like that as excessive or whatever, but nothing was excessive about it. He got all ball. I know there’s a lot of chirping with Zach involved, there’s probably a little sensitivity to it, trying to put out some fires. But I thought it was a terrible call. We obviously pay the price for it with how everything unfolded after that.”
The good news for the Warriors is that they head into the All-Star break playing their best basketball of the season. They were in good spirits heading out of the locker room, as players laughed and joked before departing for a few days off. Durant, Curry and Klay Thompson will head to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the All-Star festivities while the rest of the team gets time to relax.
After all the drama that has surrounded this group on and off the floor at various points in the season, Green said he is confident that the Warriors’ best days are ahead.
“It was very trying,” Green said of the first half of the season. “We fought through some things, which happens. We’re trying to win a, what, third straight championship? It’s not easy. So s— happens, and s— did happen, and we got through it. Sucks for everybody else. I know everybody else was hoping we didn’t. Like I told you all months ago, everybody on this team isn’t gonna stop this run. Someone else gotta be lucky enough to do it. And luck might’ve run out.”
Curry echoed similar sentiments.
“We’re locked in on what the goal is,” Curry said. “Regardless of the storylines and headlines that have been on our team since October, at the end of the day you understand who’s in that locker room, how much we appreciate each other, the true potential we have as a team. And honestly now, with 25 games left, just going to lock in and focus on working out the kinks and raising the level of play so that when the playoffs comes around we feel like we’ve really hit our stride. We’ve had two losses, I think, in the last 17 or 18 games. So winning mentality, but there are still things we need to do to get better. And we’re all pretty committed to it on a daily basis. That is a good feeling. And it’s about basketball and nothing else.”
The Warriors’ next game is Feb. 21 against the Sacramento Kings.
“I think we’re in a great place,” Green said. “We’re not playing our best basketball, but I think our chemistry is great and that’s the most important thing for us. We got a lot of talent, we got a great team. So long as our chemistry is great, no one can beat us, for real. We’re in a great place heading into this break. We got to clean some things up when we come out of the break, but that’s the perfect time to clean it up heading into the playoffs strong. So I’m excited about where we’re at.”