It did not take long for the chippiness that we saw in Game 1 of the Golden State Warriors versus Memphis Grizzlies series to return in Game 2.

Golden State guard Gary Payton II was headed to the basket for what appeared to be an uncontested layup or dunk, but Memphis’ Dillon Brooks had other ideas. Brooks came in wildly and hit Payton from behind. Payton fell hard to the ground and immediately grabbed his left arm. Brooks was ejected from the game.


To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Warriors were unhappy with the play.

They were not alone.

If there’s anything positive to say about Brooks here, it’s that he probably wasn’t trying to hurt Payton. The fact that he showed immediate concern makes it likely that he was trying to foul him to prevent a layup, not hurt him.

That just doesn’t make much of a difference.

Draymond Green was controversially ejected from Game 1 on a play where he dragged a leaping Brandon Clarke to the ground. While Green’s reputation does him no favors, the plays weren’t the same. One, Clarke wasn’t going nearly as fast as Payton was and Green wasn’t going as fast as Brooks. Two, Green held Brooks’ jersey all the way down to the ground. That did a lot to soften the landing.

Brooks might have done something similar with Payton if he had the chance but both were moving too fast and in opposite directions. Brooks came in way too wildly here. It would still be a dirty play if it was later and the game was on the line, but it would be a little more understandable. But there are way too many points scored in even a low-scoring NBA game to be that reckless in trying to defend a first-quarter basket.

Later in the quarter, Green was elbowed in the nose. When he went to the locker room for treatment, Green let the Memphis fans know that he thought they were No. 1.

This series is physically intense — something we wouldn’t expect to change as it goes longer.

Update: Gary Payton II has a fractured left elbow.

Update II: Steve Kerr said that Dillon Brooks “broke the code” with the foul.

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