SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Draymond Green was ejected after putting Rudy Gobert in a headlock and two other players were thrown out after an altercation early in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 104-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.
“Not much to say,” Gobert said. “That’s just clown behavior.”
The game was still scoreless and not even two minutes had elapsed when Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Minnesota’s Jaden McDaniels got in a shoving match near midcourt following a Timberwolves possession. Gobert stepped in and grabbed hold of Thompson before Green rushed in and pulled Gobert away from behind with his arm around the center’s neck.
Thompson’s jersey was ripped during the scuffle, which led to Green’s second ejection of the season and two free throws for Gobert.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr said McDaniels instigated the altercation and Thompson should not have been ejected.
“He’s running up the floor, and the guy grabs his jersey, and he’s pulling on him. So Klay pulls back,” Kerr said. “No way that Klay should have been ejected. That was ridiculous.”
McDaniels and Thompson initially collided after a missed Minnesota shot, when the Wolves forward was going in for the rebound. McDaniels said he was “just trying to defend myself” when Thompson grabbed at his collar.
There was some early aggression between the teams, but McDaniels did not anticipate the tension would boil over.
“There was some chitter-chatter going back and forth, but I wasn’t taking it serious,” McDaniels said. “I was laughing. And then I guess it was just a bigger deal to him.”
Thompson and Green were not available for comment after the game.
After the fracas began, Gobert said he got involved to “de-escalate the situation.” When Green grabbed him, Gobert threw up his hands to avoid making matters worse.
“My first thought was just, ‘I’m not going to fight. I need to be in this game to help my team,’” Gobert said. “I just showed the ref that I had my hands up, and I just waited until the situation was over. Nothing more than that. It wasn’t a good enough choke to put me to sleep.”
Crew chief Tyler Ford told a pool reporter that Gobert was considered a “peacemaker” and thus was not ejected for his involvement.
“I thought the ejections were the right ones,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “I thought they were warranted. I thought (the refs) did a good job of getting control of the game from that point of view. The game was very physical, but it wasn’t a very dangerous and out-of-control game.”
While Gobert said he did not feel unsafe during the scuffle, he expects the NBA to punish Green for his actions.
“I do hope that the league is going to do what needs to be done,” he said.
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