Green ejection sparks emotional Warriors comeback

It was another listless, dreary performance for the Warriors to start Friday night.

It looked like Golden State was content to be that flip-switching team that it had been through the first five games. Then, with a headlock, a ripped jersey and a couple ejections, Bradley Beal and the Wizards (3-2) flipped the switch for them.

After being thoroughly outplayed before a second-quarter squabble, the irate Warriors (4-2) marched all the way back from an 18-point deficit to an emotional 120-117 win.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.

Following a Draymond Green block with a handful of seconds left before the half, Beal appeared to strike Green on the side of the head before grabbing him by the neck and forcing him into a WWE-style grapple that saw both players spill. Joined by the other eight players on the court, and a couple more spilling from the Washington bench, the two tussled on the ground right in front of the courtside seats.

Green was given a technical and because he already picked one up earlier for arguing a call was tossed, while Beal was shown the door for instigating the fight and leaving Green’s jersey looking like this:

Steve Kerr was still confused as to why Green was kicked out after the game:

“I’m not sure why he got kicked out, whether it was because it was his second technical or if he would have been kicked out anyway because he was in an altercation. I wasn’t thrilled with his first technical, I don’t think he deserved it. He deserved a delay of game, but I was standing right next to Draymond and the official and he didn’t swear and he didn’t say anything insulting.”

But from that point on Golden State was a different team and let the Wizards know the worst kept secret in the league: when the Warriors are angry, it’s a wrap.

Kevin Durant said it was a really an emotional game, which actually led to them forgetting some plays and schemes:

“It’s just an up-and-down game, and then the fouls and the couple techs we had, it was just so many emotions in the game. The last thing you kind of worry about is what coach drew up on the board and we tend to forget a little bit, just because the game is so intense. It was kind of easy to lose focus, but we are a veteran team and we got to lock in.”

Lapses in play execution aside, the Warriors put on a furious late-game rally that saw them outscore Washington by 21 over the game’s final 20 minutes. It also might have helped that in the scrum Kelly Oubre may or may not have concussed his own teammate.

Kevin Durant led the charge with 31 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and was joined by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson who had 20 and 18, respectively. It was a rough shooting night to start for all of them though, as the Warriors ended the first half just 3-of-20 from deep.

They would finish 10-of-38, still a horrid 26.3 percent, but nowhere near where it could have been. While their big three struggled the Warriors got timely production from their backups.

Without Green, the surprisingly active Kevon Looney stepped into his role for nearly the entire second half, and all he did was go 4-of-4 for nine points and five rebounds with some thunderous dunks in crunch time that helped seal the game for the Warriors.

Kerr said it was karma for him to have this kind of game:

“I could not be happier for Kevon. He’s worked so hard. The poor kid has had two surgeries his first two years, one on each hip, got himself in incredible shape this summer and lost 20 pounds. He had a great camp, but he’s got so many people ahead of him… You work that hard and put that kind of effort in, you have such a good camp, things kind of tend to go your way.”

Veteran David West was one of the only players to have a good shooting night, going 8-of-9 for 16 important points off the bench, and was the Warriors best big man down the stretch.

Warriors got everything they could out of Omri Casspi, who finished with eight points in 13 minutes and was a plus-17, which earned himself a lot more looks going forward.

Casspi said that’s what everyone should do when given the opportunity:

“There’s only one thing that you can control, when you’re out there to do what you do. I’ve had the chance to talk to the young guys, [and tell them] it’s a long season and for me too. I haven’t played all year and I didn’t really care, you know why? Because when I have an opportunity that’s what you should do.”

While this was certainly an exciting game, it started with the Warriors turning the ball over at an alarming pace yet again. They would finish with 17—which is right at their average for the season—and puts them in the bottom eight in turnovers per game.

Their problem was on full display early on, and the Wizards were capitalizing on every miscue, and it looked like it may finally cost the Warriors a humiliating loss.

But then it all changed with that one play in the second quarter. With Beal and the Wizards poking the sleeping bear.

Up next

The first extended homestand of the season for the Warriors wraps up on Sunday against the Detroit Pistons with an early 5:30 start time.

Notes

Rookie Jordan Bell was a healthy inactive for the game as Steve Kerr continues to tweak his rotation of bigs, one night after making JaVale McGee a healthy inactive. Look for Bell to be back on the active roster next game and for Kerr to continue to do these lineup shifts. … With Klay Thompson‘s 18 points, his total donated money for the North Bay Fire Relief to $40,000 with one more game to go. If you would like to pledge your own money to the cause go to https://pledgeit.org/klay


Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.