PHOENIX — Warriors goaltender Klay Thompson was ejected for the first time in his career after committing back-to-back technical fouls in a choppy third quarter in Golden State’s 134-105 loss to the Phoenix Suns Tuesday evening.
It was the five-time All-Star’s first career ejection in 759 regular season and playoff games.
Thompson had a verbal fight with Phoenix’s Devin Booker for several minutes during the third quarter – repeating over and over that he had four rings, according to Booker. With 6 1/2 minutes left in the quarter, the two continued to exchange words and then bumped their chests which resulted in double techniques on both players.
“There were tweets from both sides, I know that,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “I think [the Suns] were very emotional.”
As Thompson started to pull away, Mikal Bridges entered him. Thompson pushed Bridges back and soon after received his second technical foul, leading to his ejection. Thompson had to be restrained by teammate Stephen Curry and Warriors assistant coach Chris DeMarco.
“After he got kicked out he had a lot more to say, which I love,” Curry said. “Round trips are part of [the game]and I love that he’s committed to that because it’s important to him.”
A total of seven technical fouls were inflicted in the third quarter between the two teams, all in less than six minutes. Greens and Warriors coach Steve Kerr, as well as Phoenix players Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton were also whistled over technical issues for various outbursts, with most of that anger directed at the officials. These seven techniques have tied the most in a single quarterback over the past 25 seasons, according to research from the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I think both teams want it. I don’t think it’s personal at all. I think we just respect them. They’re the champions,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “So they’re going to do our best because they’re the best. So I think a lot of the emotion is just being competitive. We don’t take it personally at all, we understand better than once all that stuff happens, we have to focus on the competition and try to win the game.”
As Thompson walked off the field, he continued to yell at the Suns bench, waving at them while pointing his hand, reiterating the same message he was tweeting in Booker’s ear.
“We’re just two competitors,” Booker said. “I love Klay Thompson. I’ve had him for a very long time. But that won’t excuse us for being competitive and talking to each other. I’ve always admired his game, the way he plays on both sides of the ball. And Obviously, the rings speak for themselves.”
Describing the trash talk between the two, Booker summed up, “They’ve got four rings, repeated over and over, and they do it, and they did it.”
Thompson did not speak to the media after the game.
With Booker as the main defenseman, Thompson shot 0 for 4, including 0 for 3 of 3, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He finished the night with just 2 points on 1-of-8 shooting in 19 minutes.
Meanwhile, Booker led all scorers with 34 points on 10 of 19 shooting, including three 3-pointers. He also made 11 of 14 free throws. Booker scored 130 points in his first four games — the most in four single-season games in Suns history.
“He and Book have kinda gotten into it over the years, they’re just competitors, both great players – I remember four or five years ago when Book first appeared, Klay was in his prime, he went there one night at Oracle and the same kind of thing happened,” Kerr said. “There were no ejections, but they’re both competitive, they protect each other, and that’s the NBA. The highest competition in the world, stuff like that happens.”
Kerr said Thompson was frustrated playing under his current minute restriction as he returned to full conditioning. In a shootout earlier today, Thompson said he didn’t expect to have to exercise the same kind of patience as he did when he returned from a two-year hiatus. last season.
“Klay cares so much about his own impact on the team,” Kerr said. “He wants it so badly and he’s trying to force it right now. He’s trying too hard. But he’s done it many times, even before the injuries. So I’ll remind him: there are 78 games left.”
Amid the chaos of the third, the Suns were playing well and their lead grew to 19 points by the end of the quarter. Without Thompson, the defending NBA champions were never able to mount a rally, and the Suns held a comfortable lead the rest of the way.
“We must remember that [as] defending champions, there’s a different glow when you walk in,” Curry said. “Teams try to come to you, especially on the road, to attract their crowd. Their emotions are strong and they feed on them. … They had a bit of a lead after that moment which they capitalized on.”
In the moments after Thompson’s ejection, the Suns outscored the Warriors 22-9. But Kerr said he didn’t believe that was when the match was lost. Instead, it was at the free throw line, where Phoenix attempted 34 (and made 28) to Golden State’s 17 attempts (with 13 marks).
“We lost our way,” Kerr said. “We have a lot of work to do. We are by no means a finished product. … We are nowhere near where we need to be right now. We are a very poor defensive team, and that’s not winning in this league.”
The Warriors’ defensive woes start with their transition defense, Kerr said. As they worked through this issue, they began to clog up, which Kerr attributed to them falling behind in rotations. The Warriors allowed the Suns to score 72 points in the first half – the third game they gave up at least 70 points in a half this season.
“The commitment to defense is not there,” Green said. “It’s something we have to be better at, and it starts with me. And I’ll make sure we get there. But right now we’re a decent attacking team and a bad defensive team. I don’t care. don’t expect it to be. It’s something we can change, we just have to commit to it.
Information from The Associated Press has been included in this report.
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