PHOENIX (AP) — Draymond Green keeps losing his temper. Golden State keeps losing basketball games.
The Warriors dropped another one on Tuesday night, falling 119-116 to the Phoenix Suns. It was a frustrating evening made worse when Green was ejected once again after hitting Jusuf Nurkic in the face while the two were battling for position in the third quarter.
Golden State, a franchise that has won four titles over the past decade, is 10-13 this season and now Green might be facing another league suspension. It’s been less than a month since the four-time All-Star was suspended five games by the NBA for putting Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert into a headlock during an altercation in November.
The 33-year-old gave a mea culpa following Tuesday's game, but it's unclear if he can escape further punishment from the NBA.
“He was pulling my hip and I was swinging away to sell the call,” Green explained. “I made contact with him. As you know, I'm not one to apologize for things I meant to do, but I do apologize to Jusuf, because I didn't intend to hit him.”
Green's 18th ejection, most among active players, was another bewildering moment for the veteran forward. It could lead to further discipline, especially because the league cited Green's history of unsportsmanlike acts when issuing its previous penalty.
“We need him, we need Draymond,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He knows that, we’ve talked to him. He’s got to find a way to keep his poise and be out there for his teammates.”
Green's outburst seemingly came out of nowhere. He and Nurkic were battling for position early in the third when the two got a little tangled. Green appeared to slightly lose his balance, but then inexplicably wheeled around and smacked Nurkic in the face with his right hand.
“What's going on him, I don't know,” Nurkic said. “Personally, I feel like that brother needs help. I'm glad he didn't try to choke me ... That had nothing to do with basketball. I’m just out there trying to play basketball.”
Nurkic immediately crumpled to the ground after the hit but eventually got up and stayed in the game. The referees reviewed the play before calling Green for a Flagrant 2 foul, which causes an automatic ejection.
“It just looked like a reckless, dangerous play,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said. “I'm sensitive to our guys getting hit on plays like that. I didn't like it. The refs did what they had to do. The league will do what they have to do.”
Other Warriors were upset on Tuesday for reasons that had nothing to do with Green's ejection. Kerr played a lineup with mostly reserves in the final minutes, benching five-time All-Star Klay Thompson.
Thompson — who scored seven points on 2-of-10 shooting in 27 minutes — was obviously upset after the game. For a proud franchise that's had a ton of success over the past over the past 10 years, these are tough days.
“Of course it frustrates me," Thompson said. "Think I'm just gonna chill? I'm freaking competitive, man. At the end of the day, I'm one of the most competitive people to put this uniform on. I can say that with confidence.
"Whatever — I guess I didn't bring it tonight,” the guard said of his benching. “Deserved it.”
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