The Warriors were counting on Klay Thompson to have a breakout game against the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night at Chase Center, but less than two minutes into Golden State’s 104-101 in-season tournament group play loss, he was carted off to the locker room. An discharge.
Thompson, Warriors forward Draymond Green and Timberwolves wing Jaden McDaniels were ejected by referees after a chaotic scene unfolded in the first quarter.
Thompson and McDaniels began attacking each other. Then Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert put his hands on Thompson, resulting in Green racing and putting Gobert on a pillow before referees and coaches separated everyone.
This time, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was angered by the decision to eject two of his players, while Gobert went unpunished.
“There’s no way Klay Thompson was ejected from the game,” Kerr told reporters. “I mean, he runs down the floor and the guy grabs his jersey. So Klay backs off. There’s no way Klay should have been ejected. That’s ridiculous. So I’m upset about that, and then the Draymond piece is, if you watch the replay, Rudy has his hands on Klay’s neck, and that’s why Draymond’s behind Rudy. went
“I watched a replay right after it happened. The guys behind the bench told us Rudy had the clay and that’s why Draymond went to Rudy. That’s all I know. But yeah, it was a weird way to start the game. A minute and a half in.”
Kerr isn’t sure Green will be suspended for his role in the fight, but based on the referees’ assessment of the Warriors forward’s flagrant 2 foul, an additional fine from the NBA could be imposed.
After the ejections, the Warriors had to continue without Thompson, Green and Steph Curry, who was out with a right knee injury. Against the red-hot Timberwolves, it probably wouldn’t have surprised outside observers if Golden State ran the team out of the building.
But the brawl and ejections galvanized the remaining Warriors players and fans at Chase Center. Golden State led by five points at halftime and seven points in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t remember what was going on, but the guys tried to protect their own teammates,” senior center Dario Saric told reporters after the game. “But the early game, sometimes at the beginning of the season, is better. I’m not saying it’s a big, big thing, but to show that the team is alive, the team is ready to play, the team is ready to bring some. Energy. In one way it’s a good way, in another. It’s not basketball in a way, but it’s good to bring that kind of edge.”
The unlikely star of the Warriors’ loss was rookie Brandin Potziemski, who was unavailable with Curry, Thompson and Green. The Santa Clara product played 39 minutes and finished with 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field.
While Kerr was furious with how the fallout from the fight unfolded, Podzimski took a different tack.
“I thought it was amazing,” Podziemski told reporters. “When Draymond and Klay get into it, I think that’s what ignited the energy from our fans. Draymond does everything he can to affect the win, and maybe that’s what he was called for tonight.”
The Warriors entered Tuesday’s game on a three-game losing streak, including Sunday night’s loss to the same Timberwolves. So Golden State knew it had to get off to a good start in the rematch against Minnesota.
“Because they beat us, we were already fired up for the game,” Kevon Looney told reporters. “It’s a preseason tournament game, so there’s a little bit more at stake. I think the scrimmage kind of set the tone. We already knew we were going to come out and compete hard, and we wanted to punch first. The scrimmage is what drew the crowd in, got everybody going, and we were going to strike first. , we wanted to play hard for our guys that got kicked out, and I think that came through.”
Looney shared Kerr’s sentiments about how the discipline was handled by the officials, believing Thompson should have stayed in the game while Gobert deserved some sort of punishment for his part in it all.
“I was shocked because it happened so early in the game,” Looney said. “I don’t think Klay should have been ejected. Somebody was trying to hit him. Gobert got away with nothing after grabbing Klay first and Draymond was defending a teammate. So that was a little shocking. It was what it was and the refs had to make tough calls. Those two guys for the rest of the game. It’s sad not to be, but we had to do what we had to do.”
With Curry out, Chris Paul dropped back into the starting lineup with Thompson, Green, Andrew Wiggins and Saric.
Paul became the unquestioned leader once Thompson and Green were kicked out, and he could feel the atmosphere in the building changing after the altercation.
“We still have one more game to play,” Paul told reporters. “Whenever that happens, it usually creates a lot of energy in the building. It definitely got everyone into the game a little bit more.
“It was good to see that energy and that fire. Unfortunately, there were two ejections.”
The Warriors have one day off before hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. It remains to be seen whether they will line up in black and green or not.
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