Game 4 of the regular season, not Game 4 of the playoffs, folks. It’s not even Halloween yet, but the tempers were flaring during Tuesday night’s game between the Warriors and Suns.
Midway through the third quarter, Warriors guard Klay Thompson and Suns guard Devin Booker spent a few minutes constantly chirping back and forth at one another. Though Thompson was 1-of-7 from the field at that point and went on to miss another 3-point attempt, he held up four fingers (for four titles) to Book while getting visibly heated.
Eventually, it reached a boiling point between the two players with 6:31 left in the third, as they both were slapped with technical fouls. After Klay's first tech, the two teams met at midcourt and he continued to be fired up before getting another tech and ejected for the first time in 796 career games.
It was rare to see Klay so heated, but Booker clearly got under his skin after Thompson’s slow start to the game, and the season. Following his 1-of-8 performance Tuesday night, Klay is now shooting 35.6 percent from the floor and 28.6 percent from 3-point land, after going 0-for-5 from beyond the arc.
Booker ended up with a game-high 34 points in the 134-105 Suns victory. He told TNT there were no hard feelings after the game. The Suns responded by going on an 11-0 run after Thompson’s ejection to take control of the game.
"I love Klay Thompson and I have from the beginning," Booker said. "From the draft, coming out, I said I wanted to be Klay Thompson. That doesn’t excuse us from competing against each other and talking a little mess with each other. I had fun with it. Big fan of his and his competitive nature. That’s that."
Kendra Andrews of ESPN also shared more comments from Booker, who confirmed that Klay was boasting about his four championship rings.
As he walked off the floor, Thompson also shared some words with the Suns bench. This marked the first game between the two Western Conference foes since March 30, when the Suns infamously worked out in the bowels of the Chase Center after beating the Dubs.
"Klay's a fiery player," Jordan Poole said after the game. "He plays with a lot of emotion. It's not outwardly, it's definitely inward, but he's a great player. It was just a little talking that they did. I think it was a bit much for ejecting. But we got another game in a couple days and he'll be ready."
The entire third quarter was pretty intense, as seven total technicals were handed out, including ones to Steve Kerr, Draymond Green, Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul. According to the broadcast, it was the most techs handed out in a quarter since the 1996-97 season.
Curry said he didn't think Klay's actions warranted getting tossed from the game.
"I actually thought it wasn’t ejection-worthy," Curry said. "There was 800 people on the court. … I disagree with that. It was a lot of chirping on both sides."
Earlier in the day, following a shootaround at Arizona State in Tempe, Thompson told reporters he wasn’t concerned about his subpar numbers or minutes restriction.
“I’m not going to worry about made shots or statistics,” Thompson said. “I’m just going to go out there and play hard and be a two-way, impactful player.”
Draymond said that the past two years have made Klay more introspective, but that he's also talking a lot more on the court since returning.
"I think he is more vulnerable than he’s ever been," Green said. "But he’s also 32 years old now and not 25. I think that comes with time and growing into manhood. He’s definitely not Klay Thompson of 2016. He talks a lot more."
Poole said he expects Klay to respond, as the Warriors will host the Miami Heat on Thursday.
"Klay has proven how great of a player he is over and over and over again," Poole said. "He's done it for all those years. Klay is capable of a big game and he's a really big part of our team. It's only a matter of time he goes off for a crazy game."