MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Golden State forward Draymond Green returned to action Monday after missing 16 games as part of a league suspension for his history of misconduct, the action coming after he struck Phoenix center Jusuf Nurkic in the face during a Dec. 12 game.
“Felt good, all things considered,” Green said following the Warriors fourth-quarter shutdown that led to a 116-107 win for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Green, who played 23 minutes and scored seven points, didn't start the game, but entered with 6:10 left in the first quarter. His appearance drew a hearty set of boos from the Memphis faithful. There was a smaller than usual crowd at the game as the city dealt with about a half-foot of snow and temperatures in the teens. But that didn't stop those Memphis fans attending from booing Green every time he entered the game, and many times when he handled the ball.
“Draymond played well. He played hard. It's good to have him back,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the loss. “Obviously as a team we didn't play well, but Draymond competed. It was good to get him back in the fold.”
Monday's appearance was Green's first action since the Dec. 12 game in which he spun around and struck Nurkic in the face. Green was assessed a Flagrant 2, which led to his ejection in the third quarter.
That blow led the league to hand down an indefinite suspension of Green on Dec. 14. League officials said the punishment was for the defensive stalwart's “repeated history of unsportsmanlike acts.” The ejection for hitting Nurkic in the face was his 18th, most among NBA players.
Asked before the game about Green's impact, Kerr said part of what's been missing is communication on defense.
“He's our emotional leader, and he brings the fire and energy that we need,” Kerr said. “We have a relatively quiet team, so his leadership is important to us.”
Green was reinstated by the league on Jan. 3, but did not return to action until Monday as the Warriors played the Grizzlies in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day game. The Warriors were 8-8 during the 16 games Green missed in association with the suspension.
The 6-foot-6 forward averages 9.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists.
Green met with counselors and representatives from the league, the Warriors organization and the National Basketball Players Association before he was allowed to return. The league said Green “demonstrated his commitment to conforming his conduct to the standards expected of NBA players.”
But the suspension didn't curb Green's outspokenness. He was critical of the way the Warriors played defense and how Golden State didn't take the Grizzlies — who are dealing with a rash of injuries to top players — seriously enough. He added that all of the Warriors stink right now.
But that is not changing his approach.
“I'm always going to be vocal,” Green said. “I'm never going to stop talking. ... I don't know how to not talk.”
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba