Draymond Green, Jusuf Nurkic exchange fiery comments after clash in first game since suspension
SAN FRANCISCO – Face-to-face change. An exchange of “too little” feelings. Countless insults and elbows. The first game between Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green and Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic since mid-December was as colorful as you’d expect.
The last time they met Green Nurkic hit him in the head, leading to a 12-game suspension that included mandatory counseling. In order to return, the NBA said Green had “achieved steps that demonstrated his commitment to living up to the standards expected of NBA players.” ” Nurkic even said shortly after the incident that he wanted Green to succeed and had “no bad feelings or hate for him.”
After the Warriors’ 113-112 win over the Suns on Saturday night, however, Nurkic expressed a change of tune.
“I mean it’s sad. He didn’t learn anything,” Nurkic said. “Just a matter of time, he’s going to hit somebody else again. I take everything back, what I said. He doesn’t deserve a chance. … The things he had.
On Saturday, Nurkic finished with six points and six rebounds in the loss, while Green posted 15 points, nine assists and seven rebounds on 7-of-9 shooting. After hearing about Nurkic’s comments after the game, Green offered his retort.
“He tried to get into my head and it didn’t work,” Green said. “If he wants me to walk around quiet like him, I never will. Quiet people don’t win. Yeah, I thought I was pretty good tonight. He can keep riding the same horse he rode on. – he can ride his donkey out of here on the same horse. He’s not working.”
Stephen Curry shared Green’s sentiment, calling Nurkic’s comments “idiotic.”
The chipiness started midway through the first quarter, when Green was called for a foul on Nurkic and the two players’ arms got involved afterward. That led to a face-to-face confrontation before Klay Thompson stepped into the fray and knocked the ball out of Nurkic’s hand, resulting in a technical foul.
On the Suns’ ensuing possession, Green drew an offensive foul as Nurkic tried to make his way to the basket. Green ran down the floor yelling and pointing one finger at his head, which he later clarified was meant to indicate that Nurkic was a “dummy” for plowing into.
In the third quarter, Green was called for his first technical foul since being suspended after arguing that a call was made after a layup was made. On his way back down the court, he bumped into Nurkic, causing the Suns center to look toward the officials.
And then there were the feelings. After making a jump hook over Green, Nurkic took the “too small” celebration to another level, hitting the floor twice.
When Green made a lefty layup over Nurkic on the other end a couple of minutes later, he was sure to return the favor by hitting the floor.
“You don’t get bullied a couple plays later if you want to,” Green said of Nurkic’s celebration. “You can’t be a defenseman for nothing if you’re going to do that. You’re going to do all that, you’re probably 70 pounds taller than me, and you’re put in the corner? You have to be more careful.”
Sitting at 25-25 and in the final playoff spot in the Western Conference after Saturday’s win, the Warriors have improved significantly since Green’s return from suspension. They have now won six of their last seven games, and Green is a plus-62 in the box score. For the season, Golden State’s net rating improves by nearly six points per 100 possessions when Green is on the floor.
“Draymond was in his head. Very simple,” Curry said of Nurkic after the win over Phoenix. “For Draymond to be able to — you know what happened the last time we played them. Give him credit.
“Everybody’s talking about how much Draymond had to change and find out what he was doing during the suspension and all that. Tonight was the very playbook on how to play basketball at a high level.