OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Draymond Green knows who is responsible for his kick to the groin of Thunder center Steven Adams: Russell Westbrook and the rest of the NBA stars who get to the foul line with a whole lot of salesmanship.
Green’s kick felled the 7-foot, 255-pound Adams during the second quarter of Golden State’s Game 3 loss to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals on Sunday night. Westbrook later said Green kicked Adams intentionally — and that didn’t go over well with the Warriors’ standout.
“There are multiple plays where I did it later in the game when I got fouled and my right leg went up,” Green said Monday. “I always do it. Russell said I did it on purpose, but he’s part of the superstar group that started all this acting in the NBA.”
Green even pointed to a play at the end of the second quarter, when Green fouled Westbrook on a long 3-pointer.
“Russell Westbrook kicked me at the end of the half,” Green said. “He just didn’t happen to catch me where I caught Steven Adams.”
Westbrook wasn’t thrilled with Green’s comments, calling Green’s foul on the 3-pointer a “dumb play on his part.”
“I’ve never been fined for one flop since I’ve been playing in the NBA,” Westbrook said. “I don’t know about no flopping or nothing. I don’t know how to flop. But it seems like he was the one that was flailing, kicking his legs out and stuff yesterday. It wasn’t me.”
Green was called for a flagrant 1 foul and Adams later noted that Green had kneed him in the same spot during Game 2. Green was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Monday and the foul was upgraded to a flagrant 2, but he was not suspended and will be in uniform when the defending champion Warriors try to even the series at 2-2.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he needs Green at his best.
“He needs to refocus a little bit,” Kerr said. “He’ll admit it. It was not one of his best games — in fact, it was one of his worst. The great thing with Draymond is he always turns it around. He’s one of the great competitors that we have in the league, that we have on our team. When things aren’t looking great, he usually plays his best.”
Kerr knows Green might have made himself a target for the officials.
“Does he have to be careful? I guess,” Kerr said. “Now, people are watching for him or whatever. He’s just going to play, he’s going to be himself, and we’ll see what happens.”
Green insists the hit that sent Adams to the floor wasn’t that big a deal.
“I can see how somebody can think it was intentional, but yet nobody can go in my head and say, ‘Draymond was thinking about kicking him and he kicked him,’” Green said. “If you watch my reaction, I walk back to the three-point line, clap everybody’s hands, turn around and look like, ‘What’s the dude on the floor for?’”
Green scored six points, made 1 of 9 shots and committed four turnovers in a game to forget. Normally one of the league’s best defenders, he was beaten numerous times individually by the Thunder, and the Warriors were outscored by 43 points with him on the floor.
With the crowd booing loudly every time Green touched the ball, he couldn’t make plays to shut Thunder fans up.
“That’s what was frustrating to me,” he said. “I was just bad. I missed a couple easy ones and it just kind of killed my whole game. That was pretty frustrating, especially with all the boos, because I love boos and it usually helps me play well. It was frustrating that I couldn’t get it going.”
Green has been below his standard throughout the series. He’s averaging 13 points on 37 percent shooting in the series, and just 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists. In the regular season, Green averaged 14 points on 49 percent shooting, 9.5 rebounds and 7.4 assists.
Warriors guard Stephen Curry expects Green to improve. Green bounced back after a poor Game 3 in a first-round loss to Houston to post 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a 121-94 victory in Game 4.
“He’s mentally strong, so nothing that happened last night is going to affect Game 4 except light a fire probably,” Curry said. “You can look at trends and all that. In the Houston series, he was able to understand what he needed to do differently. He’s a very smart guy. He has a great eye for the game. I think it matters to him a lot to have an impact on the game. He’ll find a way.”