It was a peek behind the curtain of the most successful professional team in current major American sports. The family business of the Warriors played out at Staples Center on Monday night, leaving behind sights and sounds that are sure to live on in Internet infamy after a 121-116 loss to the Clippers.
DeMarcus Cousins trying to calm an exasperated Draymond Green on one side of the huddle, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston trying to soothe an indignant Kevin Durant on the other.
It’s probably not as bad as it looked. But it definitely looked bad.
As regulation comes to an end during Warriors vs Clippers a heated exchange between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant ensued on the bench with Klay Thompson playing peacemaker. pic.twitter.com/Za7IrmqOJ2— adam (@ClippsMcGee) November 13, 2018
This was seconds after Green and Durant shouted toward each other on the bench, with Klay Thompson sitting placidly between them in strategic separation. This isn’t the first time the Green and Durant have had words, and it won’t be the last.
The root of their dispute was simple: Each wanted to give the Warriors the best chance to win the game, and neither did.
Green had a slim chance, though, and Durant had no chance at all.
The Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers were locked in a 106-106 tie when Green cleared a rebound with about five seconds remaining in regulation. Durant immediately signaled for the ball. Green ignored him.
Instead, Green went dribbling up the court. His reasoning was transparent and rational. He wanted to push the pace in hopes of creating some offense before the Clippers could set their defense.
Green was following the Warriors’ usual script. Don’t call timeout in such situations. Go. Try to get something good.
Durant’s reasoning, also transparent and rational, was that he’s Kevin Durant. He had scored 33 points and is one of the most unstoppable scoring forces in NBA history. He wanted to bring this one home.
That’s why he clapped so furiously for a pass that never came.
Green dribbled into a crowd of four Clippers, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander poking the ball away and Green losing control, tumbling after it as the buzzer sounded. Durant, clearly frustrated, barely crossed the half-court stripe.
What followed was the kind of squabble that happens between strong-willed teammates in the wake of failure. The Warriors eventually trudged out of the building with a richly deserved loss.
“It’s just team spirit,” Shaun Livingston told reporters. “Guys wanted a different outcome than what happened. Obviously, Dray had the turnover. Guys might have thought they were open and wanted the basketball, didn’t get it. Things happen like that in the sport.
“But it was good to see some fire and some emotion.”
Green usually brings emotion. Durant can emote with the best of them.
There still was plenty of emotion when the Warriors came out for OT. Green appeared to be defending his decision. Durant fouled out 74 seconds later, and the Warriors faded, losing a game they should have lost.
The bizarre thing about the sequence over the final five seconds or regulation is that Green derives more pleasure from creating for teammates than scoring himself. He’ll review the play and realize he should have given Durant the kind of chance he usually does.
There’s a good chance Green will tap his chest and offer a “my bad.”
Green also might wonder why Durant didn’t race up the floor along with him.
Durant might not have a good answer for that.
In the end, Green can justify his decision to keep the ball, while Durant can justify his desire to have it. They both have a point, but Durant’s seems a bit more valid.
They’ll get over this. It’s one game of 82, plus whatever comes in the postseason. Don’t be surprised if they’re laughing together as soon as Tuesday night, when the Warriors face the Atlanta Hawks at Oracle Arena.