OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Though the Bay Area is abuzz with excitement for the Golden State Warriors’ first home playoff game in 13 years, the Warriors are getting a few remedial lessons in keeping their cool.
Warriors coach Don Nelson said Thursday he will fine Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson for being ejected from Golden State’s 112-99 loss in Game 2 of the club’s first-round playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks.
Davis and Jackson put on a taunting, preening display that dampened an otherwise successful trip for the eighth-seeded Warriors, who stole Game 1 from the heavily favored Mavs and headed back to the West Coast with homecourt advantage in the series, starting with Game 3 on Friday night.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me, as hard as we worked to get to the playoffs, to all of a sudden get there and not be able to play because of ejections and not controlling our emotions,” Nelson said before a brief workout at the Warriors’ downtown training complex.
“I want to play with passion. I want to play with emotions, (but) have respect for authority out there. The referees are the authority, and just like when I make a decision, I expect the respect to be there for me. … Things don’t always go your way, and you’ve got to control your emotions.”
The NBA hasn’t announced any potential discipline against Davis, who apparently was thrown out for sarcastically applauding the officials late in the third quarter, or Jackson, who left the court in a contentious, roundabout manner after getting his second technical foul in the final minutes.
But on what should have been a celebratory day before hoops-crazy Oakland’s first taste of the postseason since 1994, Davis and Jackson spent the day avoiding direct comment on a dressing-down from their veteran coach. Nelson didn’t announce the amount of his fines, only saying, “it will be substantial.”
Neither player betrayed any particular anger about the fines—perhaps a testament to Nelson’s control of the club in his first season back in town. The Warriors spoke mostly about improving their defense and harnessing the energy of their sellout crowd Friday night after splitting the first two games.
“That’s in the past,” said Davis, who had just 13 points Wednesday night after scoring 33 in the series opener. “I’m not even going to talk about that, not even a little bit. It doesn’t have even a little relevance.”
Davis kept clapping for the officials while standing at the bench, even when Nelson asked him to stop. Davis defended his clapping a bit, saying, “I was stopping.”
Jackson still could face a suspension for the very definition of failing to leave the court in a timely manner. He took time to shout at officials and spar with fans on the long walk back to the locker room, but the swingman was cool again Thursday.
“I love basketball,” Jackson said. “I’m going to continue to play with a lot of emotion. Obviously, I’ve got to police myself. It’s obvious, and I will continue to do that, but my passion for the game will never change.”
The Mavericks already learned last year about remaining calm in the playoff cauldron. Their path to the NBA finals was littered with misbehavior—Jason Terry’s one-game suspension for punching San Antonio’s Michael Finley below the belt; D.J. Mbenga’s five-game suspension for going into the stands; Jerry Stackhouse’s one-game ban in the NBA finals for a hard foul on Shaquille O’Neal.
“Guys can get suspended, so we kept our cool (in Game 2),” Dallas forward Josh Howard said. “That’s something that comes with experience.”
But that cool didn’t slow down a series that’s become more competitive and exciting than most 1-8 matchups in an average year. Dallas’ win in Game 2 snapped Golden State’s six-game winning streak against the NBA’s best regular-season team—and it might have awakened the Mavs’ competitive spirit as well after they were outfoxed by Nelson and Davis in the opener.
“Those guys have got pride, a lot of pride,” said Al Harrington, who hasn’t made much of an impact for the Warriors. “They didn’t have the best record for nothing. It was getting a little heated (in Game 2). Guys were talking trash, which they didn’t in the first game.”
Coach Avery Johnson missed the Mavericks’ workout in Dallas while tending to a family emergency in Houston, but was expected to join the game for the flight to California. Johnson was the starting point guard for the Warriors’ last playoff team under Nelson in 1994.
“You have to realize once things don’t go in your favor, you have to let it go and focus on the next play, the next assignment, the next task,” said Devean George, who has three championships rings from his days with the Lakers.
“You can’t get caught up into what didn’t go in your favor before. I think experienced players allow things to just happen and then move on.”