SAN FRANCISCO — A whole lot went down during and surrounding the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves game on Tuesday night. Here’s a tidy wrap-up of all the relevant events.
• Steph Curry landed hard on his right knee after a drive Sunday night. It hurt enough for the Warriors to rule him out early Tuesday morning and dial up an afternoon MRI, which always tends to bring a level of unease. No matter what happened on the court, the most important big-picture development for the Warriors on Tuesday resided in the results of that MRI.
“Good news,” Kerr deemed it postgame. “Nothing alarming. So I would say he’s day to day and we’ll see. We’ll just have an update each day and let you know what’s going on. But it won’t be long. If he misses another game or two, whatever, it’s not going to be anything long-term.
• Without Curry, the Warriors started Chris Paul at point guard and replaced Kevon Looney with Dario Šarić, injecting some extra spacing next to Draymond Green. But Green’s night didn’t last long. Neither did Klay Thompson’s.
• Only a few possessions into the game, before a point was scored on either side, Thompson and Jaden McDaniels became tangled up in the corner. Thompson grabbed McDaniels’ jersey on a box out. McDaniels took exception. A strange tug-of-war jersey pull took place, devolving into a shoving match that sparked a larger scuffle.
Rudy Gobert entered the mix, grabbing Thompson from behind. That caused Green to come flying into the fray, placing Gobert in a headlock, and slowly dragging him off Thompson and to the floor. Eventually, it split up and everything was reviewed. Thompson, McDaniels and Green were ejected. Gobert wasn’t disciplined. He received two free throws because of the flagrant 2 foul on Green.
• The NBA will review the altercation and assess the aftermath in the coming day before deciding on any extra discipline. Kerr said it was too early for him to get a grasp on whether Green would be suspended.
• These were controversial choices that official Tyler Ford explained in a pool report interview postgame.
They conceivably could have given Thompson and McDaniels double technicals, allowing both to remain in the game, but opted for a double ejection because it was an “altercation that didn’t immediately dissolve,” according to Ford.
They ejected Green because “he aggressively put Gobert in a headlock and refuses to let go,” calling it “unnecessary and excessive conduct.” They didn’t give Gobert any discipline, explaining from their view that “Gobert was attempting to separate Thompson and McDaniels and was ruled to be a peacemaker.”
The Warriors’ locker room felt that Gobert was far more of an instigator than a peacemaker. In the Timberwolves’ locker room, Gobert, wasn’t shy when giving his thoughts about Green. These two teams don’t play again until March 24, though the NBA could theoretically place the Warriors in Minneapolis for the unscheduled early December game if neither team makes the final eight of the In-Season Tournament.
• Without Curry, Thompson and Green, the Warriors’ rotation was completely jumbled up. The most surprising result: Kerr inserted rookie guard Brandin Podziemski 103 seconds into the game and barely rested him after. Podziemski logged a game-high 39 minutes and finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Those 23 points are the most from any Warriors player not named Steph Curry this season. His final 3 came on a banked-in 3 to close the third quarter and an and-1 floater over Gobert late in the fourth. Podziemski’s performance inspired Kerr to make a pretty bold declaration postgame that’ll have a domino effect down the roster.
“He’s going to play,” Kerr said of the rookie. “He’s going to play every night. He’s earned that. He was incredible tonight. He’s been great in practice. There’s something unique about him at that size to rebound the way he does. He had seven tonight. He’s always in the right spot. He’s fearless. He connects the game. He plays the way we want to play. The ball moves when he’s out there. He’s attacking at the right times, he’s cutting at the right times. Defensively he’s really good. He’s a damn good player so he’s going to play.”
“I look at myself like a spare tire.”
Podziemski on his role with the Warriors pic.twitter.com/cdcI4aes17
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 15, 2023
• Šarić might’ve been the second-most impactful player. He had 21 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Kerr said it’s a “possibility” that Šarić remains in the starting lineup moving forward, even once Curry is back.
“We love the lineup that we’ve started the last couple years and we want to give that unit every opportunity to get going,” Kerr said. “We know when (Andrew Wiggins) and Klay are shooting the ball well that lineup makes perfect sense. We have two full seasons of that to show for it and to prove that. But if we’re struggling to score Dario does change the chess board with his pick-and-pop and his ability to stretch the floor. Everything’s a possibility at this point.”
• Wiggins actually had a relatively active night, using some of those early-game fireworks to take over on the glass. He had seven rebounds and three steals (after having only two total steals in the season’s first 11 games). But he still can’t find his shot. Wiggins went 4 of 15 shooting and 1 of 7 from 3. Chris Paul went 6 of 14.
• Despite an obvious path to extra rotation minutes, Jonathan Kuminga only received 16 and Moses Moody 14. Neither has gained the expected traction to begin their third season despite some impactful moments. Moody made four shots but was a minus-12. Kuminga had a quiet five points and was briefly out there in crunch time before being pulled back.
Podziemski’s rise and Kerr’s declaration that the rookie will play only creates a further logjam ahead of Moody and Kuminga.
Here’s Steve Kerr on the Klay Thompson and Draymond Green ejections pic.twitter.com/sN7qh9mfvU
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) November 15, 2023
(Photo of Klay Thompson, front, and Draymond Green, left, getting into an altercation with Rudy Gobert, back: Jed Jacobsohn / Associated Press)