Let’s skip straight to the end, but first let’s give some context.
Just seconds before the Golden State Warriors tipped off against the Charlotte Hornets, they announced that Steph Curry would not be playing, as he was not feeling well. The Dubs were behind the eight ball from the onset.
And the predictable happened: they fell behind early, and trailed by nine points after the first quarter. But just as they did against the Orlando Magic the night prior, the Warriors chipped away at the lead, eliminated it, and replaced it with a double-digit lead of their own. And just as they did against the Magic, they let that lead bleed and leak and start to evaporate.
So now let’s go to the final sequence, because it can be described by the words in the headline: bizarre, infuriating, heartbreaking. If you want to throw a few more words in there, I’ve got some free ones for you: weird, painful, confounding, annoying. Anything along those lines, really.
OK, to the sequence we go.
There are 42 seconds on the clock. Terry Rozier has just made a three-pointer to cut the Warriors lead to two. The Warriors have an ideal situation in which to go two-for-one, but they do nothing offensively, and blow right past the time for such a play.
Instead, they settle for a stepback three by Andrew Wiggins from 28 feet with 20 seconds left. It misses.
Draymond Green gets the offensive rebound and bats it out to Brad Wanamaker. Wanamaker dribbles away from the hoop to try and kill clock, then, as the Hornets are getting ready to foul him, he turtles on the ball to protect it and absorb the foul.
The foul doesn’t immediately come, at which point two people deserve blame: the ref for not calling a foul even though there was plenty of contact, and
Steve Kerr for not calling a timeout as his player was double-teamed and swarmed the other ref for not seeing Steve Kerr trying to call a timeout.
And so a jump ball at half court was awarded with 13.3 seconds, between Wanamker and the much taller (and more spry) LaMelo Ball. The ball (not to be confused with the Ball) bounced around before Gordon Hayward and Draymond Green jumped on it.
It seemed another jump ball was in the works, but instead the Hornets were awarded possession and a timeout. After the game, Kerr expressed deep frustration that the Hornets were given a timeout but the Warriors were not.
Steve Kerr says he was trying to call timeout: "It's a very difficult call on a loose ball that becomes a jump ball, that they get a timeout on. Especially because in the exact same situationI was trying to call a timeout ... only we actually had possession"— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) February 21, 2021
In the interest of fairness, it’s worth noting that it looked like Hayward did have possession of the ball. However, it wasn’t nearly as clear as Wanamaker’s possession on the previous possession, and there was essentially no time between gathering possession and being tied up.
Green did not like the call. He did not like the call at all, and he let the refs know. That earned him not one technical foul, but two.
Two technical fouls, inside the final 10 seconds, when leading by 2.
That’s a massive mistake by Green, and one that Kerr didn’t sugarcoat.
Kerr on Draymond's techs: "Draymond can't do that. He knows that. He made a terrible mistake getting T'd up."— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) February 21, 2021
More Kerr on Dray: "We would not be the team we are without him. But that doesn't give him permission to cross the line and he knows that."— Brady Klopfer (@BradyKlopferNBA) February 21, 2021
While Green deserves plenty of blame, so do the refs. Barring physical contact or the use of a slur, you just can’t call a technical foul in that situation, let alone two, and you certainly can’t do it with so quick of a whistle.
This doesn’t absolve Green of blame but ... come one. No one’s tuning into an NBA game to see if a team can make a comeback with technical free throws.
But the Hornets did, and they capitalized.
Rozier made both free throws to tie the game and then, after an ugly possession, hit the game-winner as the buzzer sounded.
Just a wild ending to the Hornets-Warriors games, it looks like Charlotte is calling a timeout immediately, whether it should be awarded is a different story. Draymond lost it and got ejected, then Rozier hits a TOUGH shot for the win. Just wild. pic.twitter.com/XoREm9Qa8f— Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) February 21, 2021
There’s plenty of blame to go around, from Green, to the refs, to the late game offensive execution, to Wiggins’ jumper, to Wanamaker’s ball security. There’s plenty of credit to be doled out as well Rozier and the Hornets.
Bizarre. Infuriating. Heartbreaking.
With blame to dole out in every direction like an Oprah meme.
Two heartbreaking losses in two days. Welcome to the NBA, Warriors.