Technically speaking, the Golden State Warriors’ Christmas matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies was a wild success. Golden State defended their home court, James Wiseman was +8 in 8 minutes, Ty Jerome outscored Dillon Brooks, and Taylor Jenkins wore pajamas to an NBA game and lost.
Technical foul-speaking, it was a real struggle for the Warriors, who got whistled for six T’s in the game. And they committed technicalities in every phase of the game: On offense, on defense, from the bench, and from the coaching box. But not all technicals are created equal, which means it’s time to rank those T’s!
6. Jonathan Kuminga:
With five seconds to go in the third quarter, Jonathan Kuminga was guarding Ja Morant when he got whistled for a shooting foul. Kuminga didn’t yell at an official, or punch the air. He clapped his hands, once, in frustration. Obviously, the biggest problem the NBA has these days is audacious clapping from young players, so Kuminga needed to be punished.
kuminga got a technical for doing 1/5th of a draymond normal reaction
— Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) December 26, 2022
Kuminga was part of a bench-heavy lineup that had held Memphis to five points in the previous four minutes. Perhaps the officials sensed the 20-year-old was getting too confident after hitting two foul shots, blocking a shot, and dishing to Moses Moody for a bucket in that stretch. But T’d up for clapping? Was the Grinch on the crew?
5. Jordan Poole, first technical
The Dubs would have had a larger halftime cushion were it not for a disastrous end to the second quarter. Poole turned the ball over, and then Klay Thompson fouled Tyus Jones on a three-point attempt. Then Poole got called for a technical. Jones made all four foul shots to make it a 59-54 game at the half.
The referees clearly had a quick whistle for everything, believing fervently that the big national Christmas games are their time to shine. Jingling sleigh bells, caroling children, Marc Davis’ whistle: These are the sounds of Christmas.
4. Jordan Poole, second technical
Poole appeared to say something to Davis after Memphis shooting guard/supervillain Dillon Brooks shoved him down, after Poole got hit on a drive to the basket with no call. Or Poole glared at Davis. Or he made a motion that looked like he might clap. Whatever it was, the move led to Poole’s first career ejection.
“He knows that he can’t get a second one,” sad Steve Kerr, saving himself some fine money by not getting into the correctness of the call. But when you have to Zapruder the footage of an ejection to determine what even happened, it’s not a very satisfying technical.
3. Steve Kerr
This was a technical foul about a technicality. When the Warriors decided to start intentionally fouling Steven Adams, Anthony Lamb was called for a transition take foul, despite Memphis not even attempting to fast break on the play and the Warriors having four other players back on defense.
Kerr apparently got T’d up for excessive arguing, even though he was right. However, his performance was exquisite. First, he stood up from the bench holding a bottle of water, solely so he could slam it down on the scorer’s table in frustration. He delivered incredible arm work, reaching full extension on his exasperated pointing, putting his hands together to pray for an understanding of the rule book, doing a two-handed brushing back of his hair to show disbelief, and pointing his finger at Davis in an affirmative but non-threatening manner. Bruce Fraser did a good job pretending to hold Kerr back.
The broadcast didn’t show what Kerr said to get rung up, but the crowd’s rousing chant of “Ref You Suck” certainly didn’t dampen the tension. You can tell Kerr made a good decision because failed head coach and selfie enthusiast Mark Jackson said it was a bad decision. Hack-a-Adams did backfire, as he hit both free throws and Memphis got a four-point possession.
2. Draymond Green
An all-time great technical drawer, Draymond Green got this one while sitting on the Warriors bench. It’s standard procedure for Draymond to pick up a T early in a big game, because it helps him play with an edge. That got him going tonight, when he finished a spectacular defensive game with a historic 3-13-13 line. The only players to score three points or less and get 13 rebounds and assists are Charles Oakley, Wilt Chamberlain (in a game where he didn’t take a shot from the field), and Draymond himself, during the epic 2016 overtime win over Oklahoma City when Steph Curry hit 12 threes. In fact, let’s watch the end of that game.
What gets this play to second on our list is Draymond’s delighted reaction when Brooks misses the free throw. Yelling “Ball don’t lie!” is one thing, but leaping off the bench with an emphatic karate kick is taking trolling to another level.
That wasn’t the end of Green’s pointed harassment of Brooks, the man who proudly and repeatedly called his Memphis Grizzlies a dynasty, although his biggest contribution to their playoff success was breaking Gary Payton II’s elbow.
1. Klay Thompson
Taunting Dillon Brooks, you say? Klay Thompson will get a $2,000 fine for drawing a T for his treatment of Brooks, and he absolutely got his money’s worth.
Thompson hit a jumper as Brooks leaped late to block it, then lost his balance after landing on his teammate’s foot. Showing an impressive follow through, Klay followed Brooks as he slid backwards on his hindquarters, letting him hear about it while he galloped sideways alongside him.
After the game, Thompson told reporters it was “Just some good, old-fashioned trash talk. I didn’t think it warranted a technical, but I forgot about the taunting rule.”
Before the game, Brooks said he looked forward to guarding Klay, because “he was talking a little smack before when he lost.” Well, he talked a lot of smack after Memphis lost this time, too.
This was elegant taunting, to a target that could not deserve it more, and who again got outscored by Ty Jerome. Thompson infuriated Brooks so much, he goaded him into losing money, after he complained about the officials postgame.
Dillon Brooks on the Klay Thompson taunt:
“Refs let it happen. He was doing it all game then they want to catch the bad guy. That’s wack to me. F-cking up calls and putting the wrong guys at the free-throw line. It was a circus. Should have had different refs.”
— Drew Hill (@DrewHill_DM) December 26, 2022
Honestly, Brooks was right about the incompetence of Sunday’s referees, but bloggers don’t get fined for criticizing the officials. NBA players do. The problem is, you can’t commit to being a hard-fouling, trash-talking tough guy and also tattle on other players for using profanity.
But that’s what separates the veteran Warriors from the young Grizzlies: Their technical proficiency.