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Warrior Green returns, but he can't prevent Grizzlies mauling

Updated: 2024-01-17 09:45
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MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Golden State forward Draymond Green returned to action on Monday after missing 16 games as part of a league suspension for his history of misconduct, the action coming after he struck Phoenix Suns center Jusuf Nurkic in the face during a game on Dec 12.

"It 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 chorus of boos from the Memphis faithful. There was a smaller than usual crowd at the game, as the city dealt with about 15 centimeters of snow and temperatures pushing — 10 C.But that didn't stop those Memphis fans in attendance 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 third-quarter ejection from the game.

That blow led the league to hand down an indefinite suspension to 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, the most among the current crop of NBA players.

Earlier this season, Green was suspended for five games after grabbing Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert in a headlock.

Asked before the game about Green's impact, Kerr said that part of what's been missing is communication in 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, when the Warriors played the Grizzlies in the annual Martin Luther King Jr Day game.

The Warriors went 8-8 during the 16 games Green missed through suspension.

The 198-cm 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 a change in 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."

Irving guides Mavs

In Dallas, Kyrie Irving scored 42 points and Tim Hardaway Jr posted a tally of 41, as the Dallas Mavericks staged a fourth quarter rally to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 125-120.

Irving and Hardaway scored 20 points between them in the fourth quarter as the Mavericks fought back from a double-digit deficit late in the third to snatch victory.

Only one other Dallas player — Josh Green, with 13 points — cracked double figures.

Dallas coach Jason Kidd, meanwhile, singled out Hardaway for praise after the 31-year-old slipped seamlessly into the starting line-up due to Luka Doncic's absence through injury.

"He's the substitute teacher in the starting line-up and he's being a pro about it," Kidd said after the win.

"This afternoon was a perfect example of that — he took his shots and was aggressive, and we need that, no matter if he's starting or coming off the bench."

Zion Williamson led the Pelicans' scoresheet with 30 points, while CJ McCollum added 23.

Agencies Via Xinhua

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