OAKLAND, Calif. — Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green acknowledged that all the chatter surrounding the officiating in Game 1 of his team’s series against the Houston Rockets was “embarrassing” for the game, and he said he was happy that both teams were less demonstrative toward the referees in the Warriors’ 115-109 victory in Game 2 on Tuesday night.
“I think both teams just realized what the hell was going on the last two days,” Green said. “You can’t really turn a blind eye to anything in today’s day and age, with social media and all these things. So everyone was aware of all the talk about officiating and about foul calls — come out and play the game. And I think both teams did a great job of that.
“They weren’t complaining about many calls, we weren’t complaining about many calls, because it’s kind of embarrassing for the game of basketball, how much has been talked about, about fouls and officiating. What about beating your man? What about stopping your man? No one talked anything about schemes the last two days. It’s all been about foul calls. I think both teams were locked in on coming out and playing the game to the best of their ability. You have to give credit to both clubs, both teams did that.”
After arguing with referees about many calls throughout Game 1, both teams showed noticeably less emotion toward the officials at the start of Game 2. Neither team had many complaints about the officiating after Tuesday night’s game.
“I didn’t even notice the officiating,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I don’t think anybody did. I think that’s the best compliment you can give them. They did a great job. This game was just about basketball.”
For the Rockets, the lack of arguments with officials throughout much of the game took on added significance, given that referee Scott Foster was part of the crew Tuesday night. Foster had not refereed a Rockets game since Feb. 21, a game in which Harden fouled out and said after the contest that Foster should no longer be part of a crew assigned to Rockets games. Harden was fined $25,000 for his comments, but after Game 2, neither he nor Paul seemed outwardly bothered about Foster’s inclusion.
Asked if they agreed with Green’s take that the chatter about the officiating was embarrassing for the league, both Rockets stars brushed off the question.
“I don’t know,” Paul said. “I was chilling.”
“What ref chatter?” Harden said. A couple of moments later, he added: “There was no chatter.”
Paul’s actions spoke louder than his words on this topic. Late in the third quarter, Warriors star Kevin Durant was whistled for a foul on Harden for not giving the Rockets star enough space to land on his follow-through and making contact with him on a 3-pointer attempt, a point of contention throughout the post-mortem of Game 1. After the whistle, Paul sarcastically jumped around and cheered at the Rockets being given the call.
For his part, Warriors star guard Stephen Curry admitted that he and his teammates were just trying to keep the focus on the game, not on whatever calls they may or may not get.
“All the conversations and all the storylines and the attention on Game 1, the one thing that we could control is our focus on what matters,” Curry said. “In terms of winning a basketball game, that’s outplaying them. We came in with the right composure in understanding that there will be calls that won’t go our way. You just deal with it, keep playing it. Next-play mentality.
“[There was a] big stretch in that third quarter where three or four calls in a row [went] in their favor, and you can see our body language in terms of smiles on our faces or looking at each other, clapping and all that type of stuff, and just staying focused on gaining what you can control, and that is playing basketball. So definitely, we were purposeful about that, and again we want to win a basketball game however we can get it done, and that’s what we did.”
The only real dust-up between officials and players came at the very end of the third quarter when Green and Rockets big man Nene Hilario exchanged a few words and were quickly given double technicals by official Ed Malloy.
The technical was Green’s fourth of the postseason. Seven technicals in one postseason span results in an automatic one-game suspension. Kerr said the Warriors would speak to the league in hopes they would rescind the technical foul before Game 3 on Saturday.
“We’ll see,” Green said. “It is what it is. We’ll see what happens. Tonight was a great officiated game. They let us be physical, both teams. They made the calls that they need to make. It’s kind of disheartening for a game that I love, since I was a child, to see the talk over the last two days was nothing about basketball and everything about foul calls. Is that what this game is coming to? The talk is going to be about foul calls?
“I love the game of basketball. It was fun out there tonight. Like I said, they let us be physical, let us play the game of basketball, which I enjoyed. I ain’t really worried about a technical foul. It is what it is.”