Clippers-Warriors: Warriors were smart, refs were stupid

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Griffin twice received flagrant fouls away from the ball, and twice he was assessed a technical foul, apparently for not enjoying the unprovoked attacks. It's not in the interests of the NBA to let this sort of tactic be successful.

I'm pretty sure that it is not in the NBA's interests to have one of their marquee players kicked out with 10 minutes left in a close game on National TV. What happened on Christmas night in Oakland was clearly in Golden State's interests -- and they seemed to have been executing a specific strategy of provoking Blake Griffin, trying to distract him into a bad mistake or an unfocused game.

Griffin did his job and didn't let it get to him (though he did force things a bit twice early in the fourth quarter). As retaliation for two separate clearly unsportsmanlike plays (plays which were deemed by the officials to have been flagrant fouls committed on Griffin away from the ball), Griffin did ... what exactly? Not much that I could see.

So Griffin did his part. He didn't retaliate. He didn't get frustrated. He had 20 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in just 33 minutes.

But the officials clearly did not do their job.

There must have been something else happening at the end of the third quarter than the Prime Ticket cameras captured, because from that broadcast, Griffin did nothing to Draymond Green. Which is what Griffin said he did. If Griffin said something to Green after he hit Griffin in the neck with a cheap elbow, well, that's to be expected. Whatever it was, was it worthy of a technical foul? We weren't there, so we can't say. But TV producers tend to like to broadcast the juicy stuff, so it's hard to imagine that a whole lot happened if the L.A. broadcast missed it entirely.

Just minutes later, Bogut put Griffin in a headlock a few seconds after Griffin had beaten the big Aussie to an offensive rebound. This time the cameras caught the entire confrontation, and I knew from the start that in the new NBA (No Balls Association) Griffin was on his way to the locker room. Although Griffin did little more than try to free himself from Bogut's grip, it was a classic "double technical" (the ultimate cop out call) situation. It's just what NBA officials call in that scenario.

Which they did, which resulted in Griffin's ejection for a second technical.

So if you're keeping track at home, Griffin received two separate flagrant fouls away from the ball (I can't really stress this part enough; how many times a season do you see a flagrant foul away from the ball? It's more than a little difficult to imagine the Warriors are NOT targeting Griffin if they hit him in the head twice when he didn't even have the ball) in a period of 80 seconds of game time, and Griffin winds up ejected because of reactions that were, let's be honest, mild compared to what you might have expected. Hell, if he's going to get ejected I bet he wishes now that he'd at least gotten his money's worth, gotten a shove in or something.

The NBA can not afford for it to be a strategy to go after stars and try to get them ejected. And if you don't think any coaches would actually have their teams behave that way, you'd best believe that Mark Jackson absolutely would.

But it's up to the league not to and their officials not to be complicit in the ploy. As of now, Jackson is an evil genius. He got the Clippers second best player ejected with almost 11 minutes left and his team went on to win the game. The refs can't let that be a winning strategy in the future.

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