Memphis Grizzlies star Dillon Brooks was suspended for one game without pay by the NBA on Thursday for making “unnecessary and excessive contact” that resulted in a fractured elbow for Golden State‘s Gary Payton II in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals.
Brooks must sit out Saturday’s Game 3 with the best-of-seven series shifting to San Francisco tied at one game apiece. Payton is wearing a brace and will be sidelined indefinitely, said coach Steve Kerr, who has called the play dirty.
Payton was injured in the first quarter of Golden State’s 106-101 loss Tuesday night when Brooks hit him across the head and the guard fell awkwardly on his left arm after driving for a layup. Brooks received a Flagrant 2 foul and was ejected.
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Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II lies on the court after being fouled during the first half of Game 2 of the team’s second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn.
(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
“It’s disappointing. It’s an unfortunate circumstance. Obviously, we’re going to honor the league’s decision, but you know it’s a tough play,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said in Memphis. “We obviously wish Gary Payton a speedy and healthy recovery. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt. It’s very unfortunate what happened there.”
The Warriors said Payton also sustained ligament and muscle damage on the play that Kerr said “broke the code” of NBA conduct. Payton underwent an MRI exam in the Bay Area on Wednesday and will be reevaluated in two weeks.
When asked about the suspension, Kerr said, “It doesn’t matter. Gary’s out. Gary’s out for the next, foreseeable future, for weeks, that’s the only thing that matters to us.”
“He’s crushed,” Kerr said. “Six years toiling away in the league as I said the other night, in the spotlight, playing in the playoffs, playing a huge role, playing well. That’s all been taken away from him. We all feel terrible for Gary. He deserves better.”
Kerr said the Warriors will continue to play their physical style without taking that too far, as he feels Brooks did.
“Keep doing what we’re doing, just play hard, battle for every loose ball, battle for every rebound, compete every possession and don’t risk a guy’s career if he’s ahead of the play in transition, that’s our mantra,” Kerr said.
Rookie Jonathan Kuminga could be called upon to take on a greater role along with Kevon Looney off the bench in the efforts to defend Ja Morant after his 47-point performance in Game 2.
Jenkins disagreed the play was dirty.
“I know there’s a narrative out there that was said that between Game 1 and Game 2 that we have to play more physical. Obviously, ‘dirty’ has been thrown out there, but I look at my locker room, I look at our culture and what we exude, we’re the furthest thing from dirty,” Jenkins said. “We’re competitive, so I want that to be squashed pretty quick here.”
Asked if he objected to Kerr saying the play was dirty, Jenkins replied, “I said what I said.”
“The word physical and dirty has been thrown around. When I have literally talked to my guys about being physical, it’s about ‘Can we stop giving them 23 second-chance points a game?’” he said. “It has nothing to do with the play that happened in Game 2.”
The NBA also announced Thursday that Warriors forward Draymond Green was fined $25,000 for directing an obscene gesture at the Grizzlies fans. He flipped them off with both hands while going to the locker room to be examined for an injury in the first quarter Tuesday. Green’s right eye, which required stitches after he took an elbow, is still swollen but he was able to practice fully Thursday.
Golden State forward Andre Iguodala, out the last three playoff games with a disc injury in his neck, will be evaluated again in a week and is making steady progress, the team said.