SAN FRANCISCO — After changing a hook shot over Golden State Warriors ahead Draymond Green within the third quarter Saturday evening, Phoenix Suns heart Jusuf Nurkic slapped the ground twice and taunted Green with a “too small” gesture.
Two minutes later, Green returned the favor.
With Nurkic between him and the ring, Green rapidly backed Nurkic down and scooped the ball over his head into the basket. Immediately, he smacked the bottom simply as Nurkic had.
“You can’t be a nothing defender if you’re going to do that,” Green mentioned of Nurkic. “You probably outweigh me by 70 pounds and you get put in the rim? Got to be more careful.”
The Warriors’ 113-112 win was the primary time Golden State and the Suns confronted off since Dec. 12, when Green hit Nurkic in the head and earned an indefinite suspension that sidelined him for 12 video games.
Part of the factors for Green’s reinstatement was present process counseling and proving to his group and the league that he had realized to handle his habits.
Nurkic mentioned after Saturday’s recreation that Green clearly hadn’t.
“It’s sad. He didn’t learn anything,” Nurkic mentioned. “Just a matter of time. He’s going to hit somebody else again. Take back everything I said. He don’t deserve a chance.”
When advised of Nurkic’s remarks at his postgame information convention, Green paused earlier than responding.
“I thought I was great tonight,” Green mentioned with a smile. “He tried to get in my head, and it didn’t work. If he wants me to walk around quiet like him, I’m never going to do that. Quiet guys don’t win. … He can keep rocking with that same horse that he rode in on. He can ride his ass right out of here on that same horse. It’s not working.”
Nurkic’s remarks trickled all through the Warriors’ locker room, prompting chuckles and headshakes. Stephen Curry referred to as the feedback “idiotic.”
To the Warriors, Green’s antics and the way he balanced them Saturday had been the strongest proof but that he has modified.
“That month off, that suspension was real,” Kerr mentioned. “[Draymond] knew that his career was on the line or is on the line. … He understands that he’s got to be the guy he’s been the last nine years, not the one he’s been the last year. I see him doing that.”
Before the sport, Kerr mentioned that he did not need Green to be a “goody two shoes,” including that if Green wasn’t going to deliver his hearth, they may as properly not play him. But Green’s availability is his most essential asset.
Against the Suns, he completed with 15 factors on 7-of-9 taking pictures, 9 assists and 7 rebounds in one in all his finest two-way performances of the season.
“He’s given us a lift every game he’s been back,” Curry mentioned. “He connects, obviously, our defense, but you can talk about his defense every game. What he did offensively tonight, especially in the fourth quarter … he gave us great energy in the sense of having that competitive spirit you need to win a game like tonight, to meet the moment.”
Added Curry: “Draymond knows how to walk the line that he needs to walk. This is probably the best game that you’ve seen it.”
Green and Nurkic exchanged phrases 4 minutes into the primary quarter after a foul was referred to as on Green.
A couple of seconds later, Nurkic posted up Green and was referred to as for an offensive foul. Green responded by flexing, working down the court docket and gesturing by knocking on his head twice.
“They called a foul on the post-up and he started talking,” Green mentioned. “Never backing down from that. I like that type of action.”
Asked concerning the gesture after Nurkic’s offensive foul, Green mentioned, “I was calling him a dummy when I was pointing to my head. I wasn’t saying I was keeping my head. I was saying, you can’t start talking and then charge into me. That’s not smart.”
With eight minutes to go within the third quarter, Green bought assessed his first technical foul since his suspension for stomping his foot in frustration after a no-call.
But to Curry, it was the “too small” gesture that shifted the momentum in Green’s favor.
“You can tell when someone is in your head when you go out of your way to celebrate,” Curry mentioned. “Then Draymond comes back at him. All of the talk, Draymond was in his head, plain and simple.”