The Golden State Warriors blew out the Washington Wizards on Sunday night, fueled by a highlight-heavy 42-point magic show performed by two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry and a fill-in-every-last-blank triple-double from All-NBA power forward Draymond Green. There was a difference of a couple of seconds between the shot clock and game clock in the final moments of the 20-plus-point beatdown, and when Matt Barnes passed the ball to JaVale McGee in the right corner, the center decided to hoist a 3-point shot (with five seconds left on the shot clock) rather than suffering a 24-second violation and a turnover.
That did not make Wizards point guard Brandon Jennings a very happy camper.
As McGee let it fly from the short corner, Jennings stepped up with a two-hand shove to the chest that sent the 7-foot former Wizard to the deck. After a brief scrum in which members of the Warriors and Wiz exchanged unpleasantries, the referees reviewed the play and assessed Jennings a flagrant foul-1 for unnecessary contact. McGee stepped to the line for three free throws, hit two of them, and after a timeout, the Warriors ran off the final six seconds of a 139-115 win.
After the game ended, Jennings and the rest of the Wizards made it very clear that he felt McGee’s closing-seconds heave was uncalled for, according to Candace Buckner of the Washington Post:
“It was very disrespectful,” Jennings said. “Thank God he didn’t go to the rack, it probably would’ve been worse for him. But a time like that, I think you should just let the clock run out.”
“It’s just a rule,” Jennings continued. “I learned it when I first came into the league not to do that. I mean, you’re already up 20 … and then for him to do it, it was kind of like ‘Come on. Chill out. Now you’re trying to embarrass us.’” […]
John Wall agreed with Jennings that the shot was “disrespectful” and praised him for committing the foul.
“Whenever a team is up like that, you supposedly hold the ball and take a shot clock violation,” Wall said. “So what Brandon did … I think it was the right play. You don’t let nobody try to embarrass you and I think that’s what they were trying to do.”
Added Bradley Beal: “I think any other team in the league would’ve did the same thing. That’s like a basketball rule. You don’t shoot the ball, period. You take a turnover, if anything. Especially you’re up 20 … you’re not respecting the game. You’re just joking around shooting. And a three at that. [Jennings] had every right to foul him. That’s like a golden rule in basketball.”
JaVale, for his part, didn’t seem to have any hard feelings after Jennings’ flagrant shove:
JaVale McGee explains why he took the late 3, thanks Brandon Jennings for making his air all not look as bad by pushing him pic.twitter.com/U5k5FGsVzj
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) April 3, 2017
JaVale McGee on Jennings' comment: "I'm glad Brandon fouled me. I was going to air ball that three. Shout out to Brandon Jennings."
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) April 3, 2017
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, however, felt that the Wizards had a point. From Chris Haynes of ESPN.com:
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr agreed McGee shouldn’t have shot that 3, but said his intentions were not to show up the opponent.
“[The closing seconds were] kind of strange,” Kerr said. “I think JaVale should not have taken that 3. When you have a lead like that, you shouldn’t be shooting 3-pointers. I told him that. I think he understands that. I don’t have a problem taking a shot when there is a shot-clock differential. I never understood why a team would be offended if there is a shot-clock deferential. We dribble out the clock and take a turnover? I don’t think you should shoot a 3 either. I guess that [is] what Jennings was upset about. I was uncomfortable with the way it ended.
“I apologized to [Wizards head coach] Scott [Brooks]. I know he wasn’t happy. There was absolutely no offense on our part. We weren’t trying to pour it on or offend anybody. I think JaVale just knew there was a shot-clock differential, but taking a 3 is not the right thing to do.”
You can argue that the Wizards would be justified in taking umbrage at the Warriors shooting a 3 if the shot clock had been turned off. You can argue that it would’ve been better form for the Warriors to just eat a turnover and be done with it. Enjoy your arguments! (Though, as you prepare to embrace debate, it’s probably worth noting that the Wiz live in a bit of a glass enclosure here.)
For the most part, though, I’ll humbly suggest that if you want to avoid an opponent “disrespecting the game” by putting up unappreciated triples in the closing seconds of a long-since-decided contest, you should probably not get fitted for clown shoes for the bulk of said contest. To wit:
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) April 3, 2017
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) April 3, 2017
Yes, the Wizards entered the unforgiving atmosphere of Oracle to wrap up a five-game, nine-day road trip that included matchups with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz before concluding with the best team in the NBA. Yes, the Warriors are, like, really good, and significantly better than the Wizards, who are themselves quite good. But the Wizards’ capacity for caring about Golden State breaking unwritten rules seemed to outstrip their capacity to actually compete with the Warriors, and that’s not JaVale McGee’s fault. (Besides, trying to avoid a turnover might be the least Shaqtin’-y thing JaVale’s ever done.)
It’s not unreasonable to want the Warriors to generally “avoid doing things that make it look like they’re unnecessarily messing around with the score or stat line.” (Like, for example, triple-double hunting.) It’s not unreasonable to think that if you don’t want to watch the other guys to dance, you should probably keep them out of the end zone. Sometimes, rational worldviews can come into conflict … and, when slightly more irrational versions of those worldviews collide, sometimes a big dude winds up on his backside in the corner, and the refs wind up convening.
We’ll let noted reasonable individual Matt Barnes have the final word on this: “Brandon isn’t going to do anything. But I understand where he’s coming from. I would just wrap somebody up in that situation, but it is what it is.”
I deem both sides heard.
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