Kerr jokes about message to Warriors after Draymond's ejection

Kerr and Draymond

The Warriors' heart and soul, Draymond Green, was ejected from Game 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies just before halftime, and coach Steve Kerr's group could have hung their heads and thrown in the towel on the opener of the Western Conference semifinal.

But that's not what a team with championship DNA does. The Warriors erased a halftime deficit and held on for a thrilling, chaotic 117-116 win over the Grizzlies at FedExForum, snatching away home-court advantage in the series.

The Warriors trailed by one point when Green was ejected and were down by six when the first half ended.

So what did Kerr say to his players as they regrouped in the locker room?

"I just told them that it was an unfortunate ruling that perhaps hampered our chances to emerge victorious in the victory or something like that," Kerr hilariously told Bonta Hill, Chris Mullin and Dorell Wright on "Warriors Live: Playoff Edition" after the game.

Green was assessed a Flagrant 2 for a foul on Grizzlies big man Brandon Clarke with 1:18 left in the second quarter. The referees reviewed the play and determined that what the Warriors' forward did was enough to throw him out of the game.

After the game, crew chief Kane Fitzgerald explained to The Commercial Appeal's Damichael Cole why the foul was deemed worthy of Flagrant 2 status as opposed to Flagrant 1.


"Well, there’s a couple things," Fitzgerald said in the official Pool Report. "The first part was the wind-up and significant contact to the face, and then the pull down from the jersey grab and throw down to the floor to an airborne vulnerable player makes that unnecessary and excessive. That’s what led to the flagrant foul penalty two."

Kerr addressed the call with Hill, Mullin and Wright while also praising the play of Kevon Looney, who was on the bench to begin the game but was inserted back into the starting unit when the second half began.

"We were all angry," Kerr said on "Warriors Live: Playoff Edition." "We all thought it was a really tough call but Loon is Loon. That guy has helped us win a lot of games over the years. And because we were playing a more spaced-out lineup with only one center, he had only played five minutes in the first half, so he was fresh, ready to go. He's helped us win a lot of games over the years. I thought he was great and we spread the floor, started making shots and getting stops. So that was the mood, like 'Let's just come out and play. No reason why we can't go out and win.' "

Jordan Poole also was moved to the bench to begin the game in deference to Gary Payton II. That move didn't deter the 22-year-old guard, who finished with a team-high 31 points in the win.

Poole had to step up in the second half without Green on the court, dropping in 17 of those 31 points.

"We knew it was a hard foul, a playoff foul and Draymond gives fouls like that all the time," Poole told reporters after the game. "Personally, I didn't think it was going to a Flagrant 2 and especially throwing him out in the first half but that's what they called and we did a really good job of fighting all game."

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The win was a monumental one for Klay Thompson, who missed 31 months with two different leg injuries before returning on Jan. 9. He lives for these high-intensity games and he was happy with the way the Warriors responded after Green's ejection.

"It's unfortunate," Thompson told reporters after the game. "We're not the same team without him but just incredibly proud of how we responded. And I think our defense, I mean, we just responded very well. And some things are out of your control but can't hang your head."

The Warriors had to play 24 full minutes without Green on the court running the defense and directing the offense. The performances of Poole, Thompson, Looney, Steph Curry and others allowed them to go into Memphis and escape with an impressive Game 1 win.