When the NBA created the In-Season Tournament as a way to inject playoff-level intensity into regular-season games, the scuffle between the Golden State Warriors and the Minnesota Timberwolves that resulted in three early ejections on Tuesday night may not have been what the league had in mind.
With the game still scoreless and not yet two minutes old, Golden State’s Draymond Green was ejected after putting Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert in a headlock.
Draymond Green put Rudy Gobert in a headlock and was ejected 😳 pic.twitter.com/ub7ZT34WiL
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) November 15, 2023
“Not much to say,” Gobert said after the game. “That’s just clown behavior.”
Golden State were without leading scorer Stephen Curry, who was ruled out with right knee soreness. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said an MRI revealed “nothing alarming,” and the star guard is considered day to day.
“Every time Steph doesn’t play, [Green] doesn’t want to play without his guy Steph, so he does anything he can to get ejected,” Gobert said.
Warriors guard Klay Thompson and Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels, who got into a shoving match that resulted in Thompson’s jersey being ripped, were also tossed.
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“I was just trying to crash for a rebound and [Thompson] kind of grabbed my collar. I was just trying to defend myself and get him off me,” McDaniels said. “The rest is what it is. I knew before that there was some chitter-chatter going back and forth. I didn’t take it seriously. I was just laughing. I guess it was a bigger deal to him.”
Green and Thompson were not available to the media after the game, but Kerr defended his players.
“There is no way Klay should have been ejected. That was ridiculous,” he said. “I was upset about that. As far as the Draymond piece of it, Rudy had his hands on Klay’s neck. That’s why Draymond went after Rudy.”
Once the dust settled, Karl-Anthony Towns scored 33 points, sending Minnesota to a 104-101 tournament victory over Golden State. The Wolves have won seven straight games for their longest win streak since 2004.
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Elsewhere on Tuesday, Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren seemed to be trying to avoid creating a rivalry after the much-anticipated first regular season meeting between two of the NBA’s top rookies.
Fans have marveled over the versatility the seven-footers have displayed early this season. Both have shown impressive shooting range and passing skills and have found early success in the rough-and-tumble league, despite their slender frames. They rarely matched up and both had off nights. Wembanyama finished with eight points on 4-for-15 shooting, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked two shots as Holmgren’s Oklahoma City Thunder beat Wembanyama’s San Antonio Spurs 123-87. Holmgren finished with nine points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Wembanyama said he wasn’t aware he was even being compared to Holmgren.
“Every prospect is compared to everyone,” the 19-year-old said after the game.