SAN FRANCISCO – An experienced playoff series marked by serious fouls and anger, evictions, charges and brutal injuries on Saturday night got more than anything.
The Warriors rolled over Grizzlies for a 142-112 win and a 2-1 lead in this second-round series, but the focus later was mostly on the state of Ja Morant’s right knee – and the weird game that kicked him out of the game and sparked another debate over what constitutes a dirty game.
Morant, the Grizzlies star defender, limped off the field with 6:19 by the end of the game, leaving his team 17 points behind after injuring his right knee moments earlier. He did not return. After the game, Morant walked to the team bus limping, but without crutches.
The team did not offer an initial diagnosis.
But the Grizzlies had a lot to say about the cause of the injury – especially calling out Warriors keeper Jordan Poole for grabbing Morant’s knee during a fight for the ball after 6:55 a.m. until the end of the game. Poole and Andrew Wiggins captured Moranta near half the field. Poole unhooked the ball from behind, then reached out again with his right hand, but instead caught Morant’s knee.
The sequence was not obvious in real time, but the Grizzlies were clearly angry after watching the slow-motion replays after the game.
“He wanted to dribble and Jordan Poole actually grabbed him by the knee and pulled him off, which triggered everything that happened,” coach Taylor Jenkins said.
Jenkins did not say Poole did it on purpose, but he implied that the league should review the game – presumably to determine if any discipline was justified. “I’ll actually be very curious to see what happens next,” Jenkins said, alluding to a possible revision of the league.
From there, the night turned into another rebuke, snipes and counterattacks, prolonging a series of long debates about fouls and fouls. Warriors star Draymond Green was knocked out in Game 1 for a heavy attack by Grizzlies striker Brandon Clarke – officials in the game considered it a flagrant penalty for foul-2, although the Warriors claimed it wasn’t as severe.
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In Game 2, Grizzlies swingman Dillon Brooks earned a flagrant-2 and ejection as he launched into a Gary Payton II spacecraft, hit him in the head and sent him to crash on deck. Payton broke his left elbow in the game, probably finishing his postseason. The league suspended Brooks for the 3rd game.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr called Brooks ’foul“ dirty ”and said he“ broke the code ”that players shouldn’t jeopardize another player’s career. The Grizzlies then stood in defense of the Brooks. And on Saturday, Kerr’s words were returned to him.
“I broke the code,” Morant tweeted a few moments after limping to the bus. The phrase appeared over a video of the play where Poole grabbed him by the knee. Morant later deleted the tweet.
“It was a basketball game,” Poole said, explaining the sequence. “I hit the ball, and I went for the ball. I mean, you obviously don’t want anyone to get hurt. I’m not even that type of player. I respect everyone. … Let’s hope he gets better and we can see him in the next game. I don’t even play like that, really. That’s not my type of game. “
Klay Thompson of the Warriors dismissed Morant’s tweet as a “playoff talk”.
“I don’t think Jordan has any evil intentions,” Thompson said. “I don’t even think he’s strong enough to affect someone’s knee. But we’re not trying to hurt people or trying to kill people in the back of the head in a quick break. We’re playing the game the right way, and I’ll watch his back.”
Morant scored 34 points and seven assists before the injury, putting together another highlight of acrobatic passes while a 4-for-7 from the arc. The Grizzlies ’magic streak this season is now turning to Morant’s knee condition — though it’s worth remembering that they were 20-5 in games he missed due to injury during the regular season.
Even with a healthy Morant, the Grizzlies won’t have a chance to pull the series if they can’t offer a little more resistance to a strong Warriors attack. Golden State hit 63 percent in game 3, including a 17-for-32 night at the harbor. 142 points were the most scored by any team this postseason, and the second highest in Warriors playoff history. Their second half of 78 points equaled the franchise record for the playoffs for points in the half.
The fourth game will be played here on Monday night, amid growing tensions over dirty offenses and unwritten codes.
“No one here is dirty,” Jaren Jackson Jr. said. from the Grizzlies. “Nobody’s like that here. It’s just sad. You know, the ‘code’ — we’re going to talk about the ‘code’ of all the series right now.”
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