The Warriors returned to Oracle Tuesday. But with everything that has happened in the last 24 hours, it was more like a broken home.
Still, Golden State (12-3) put away the Hawks (3-11), 110-103, in a choppy affair, doing so without Draymond Green, who was suspended by the team before the game for “conduct detrimental to the team.”
It was a culmination of what happened at the end of regulation against the Clippers Monday, when Kevin Durant was visibly upset with Green for not passing him the ball.
And after team officials reviewed the incident, which also spilled over into the locker room after the game, Bob Myers and Steve Kerr made the decision to suspend Green for one game without pay.
Durant was still clearly upset about the things that were said after the game and kept his postgame answers short when asked if Green crossed a line in what he said:
“I’m going to keep that in-house, that’s what we do here. I mean, obviously I know you guys got a job to do, but I’m not trying to give nobody no headlines. What happened, happened, we trying to move on. We’re just trying to play basketball.”
With Green not in the building and Stephen Curry still in street clothes, all eyes were on Durant and how he would respond to such turmoil.
Would he be extra aggressive and go for 50? Would he be out to prove he’s unselfish and take just 10 shots? Everything was on the table. It turned out it was just another regular game for the two-time Finals MVP.
Durant scored 29 points on a modest 9-of-23 from the field. But he looked drained, as did the entire team. They looked like a team that played a grueling overtime game the night before.
But also, the whole Durant Green situation feels like it added an emotional weight on top of their tired legs.
That’s something that Kerr noticed and felt himself:
“Not an easy game, you know, back-to-back. Just coming in a little fatigued, a little emotionally spent and we had to grind it out. Proud of the guys, it wasn’t our best game but it was a good effort.”
Klay Thomson went for 24 but shot just 8-of-19, though he had himself a well-rounded game with five boards, four assists and three steals.
Quinn Cook continued to play well in Curry’s absence with 18 points, but also struggled from the field going 2-of-7 from deep.
The Warriors needed some lift, and luckily for them they got it from two of their bigs.
Jonas Jerebko set season highs with 14 points and 13 rebounds and double-doubled for the first time in a Warriors uniform. The 13 rebounds tied his career high, which came all the way back in 2010 — his rookie season.
Jerebko might have been the best Warrior on the floor tonight, at least according to Kerr:
“Jonas was great, he was our MVP tonight. The start was just to get some spacing on the floor early in the game. I like his rebounding and his aggressiveness. I thought he played a really, really solid game.”
After struggling to start the month of November, the veteran looks back to the impact bench player the Warriors saw the first month of the season. He came in shooting just 18 percent from 3 in November but went 4-of-7 from deep Tuesday and brought some energy to a drowsy squad.
He even dove into the Hawks bench at one point, receiving a standing ovation for his troubles.
Jordan Bell also sparked some life into the club in the second quarter. He had six points and two blocks in the second quarter alone, and even single-handedly stopped a 3-on-1 fast break.
Bell has been a different player when he’s the lone center on the court, it gives him much more space to operate and allows him to play the position in which he is most comfortable and familiar — cutter.
When he’s playing the four, Jones takes the diver spot and Bell is relegated to roaming around the elbow or short corner, something that doesn’t fit his current skillset.
With those two giving the team some juice the rest of the starters were able to do just enough to bring home a win.
There was never a shadow of doubt hanging over the outcome of this game, but something larger was looming.
While the Warriors continue to roll on the court, it’s the off-court stuff that has some worried. And rightfully so, this Green Durant situation isn’t nothing.
Although Thompson was quick to say everything will be fine:
“They’re grown. They’ll be fine. I love both of those guys. At the end of the day we are on the same team with the same goal, and that’s to three-peat. And I don’t think either of them will lose sight of that, whether it’s personal agenda or whatever.”
While that has always been the case with this team, this situation is different. This is the first time Green has been suspended by the Warriors despite blow ups in the past.
And you can tell by Durant’s answer to if he was surprised Green was suspended:
“I was just focused on the game, I didn’t care either way.”
There was no sugar-coating. There was no cliché, canned answers about how this team are all brothers and they’re all good.
It was an obviously a big deal still, but the total fallout from this whole incident still remains to be seen.
The Warriors now take off for the always tough Texas road trip. They’ll start in Houston for a Western Conference rematch with the Rockets Thursday. The Rockets have had a rough start to the season but with both teams going through their own player dramas, it’ll be an interesting matchup.
It was the 300th consecutive home sell out for the Warriors at Oracle, the fourth-longest active streak in the NBA.