The Minnesota Timberwolves’ beat the Golden State Warriors 104-101 on Tuesday night giving the team it's seventh straight victory. But it was what happened before points were scored that standout the most.
It was the second game of a back-to-back, but even before the first point was scored, a scuffle broke out on the court.
The series of events began with the Wolves Jayden McDaniels and Golden State's Klay Thompson got tangled up at midcourt. As others raced to break it up, Draymond Green, who has had a troubled history of on-court issues, locked up Gobert in a chokehold.
Crew chief Tyler Ford told a pool reporter that Gobert was considered a “peacemaker” and thus was not ejected for his involvement.
After the game, Gobert called Greens' action "clown behavior."
"Clown behavior, and I’m proud of myself for being the bigger man again and again," said Gobert to reporters. "And yeah, doesn’t even deserve me putting my hands on him. My team needed me tonight. I did whatever I could to keep my cool and then show that I wasn’t making the situation worse."
McDaniels, Thompson and Green were ejected but all indications are that Green should receive a stiff suspension even after being ejected from the game. The NBA reviews any incidents like this and can pass down further punishment.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr said McDaniels instigated the altercation and Thompson should not have been ejected.
“He’s running up the floor, and the guy grabs his jersey, and he’s pulling on him. So Klay pulls back,” Kerr said. “No way that Klay should have been ejected. That was ridiculous.”
McDaniels and Thompson initially collided after a missed Minnesota shot, when the Wolves forward was going in for the rebound. McDaniels said he was “just trying to defend myself” when Thompson grabbed at his collar.
There was some early aggression between the teams, but McDaniels did not anticipate the tension would boil over.
“There was some chitter-chatter going back and forth, but I wasn’t taking it serious,” McDaniels said. “I was laughing. And then I guess it was just a bigger deal to him.”
Thompson and Green were not available for comment after the game.
“I thought the ejections were the right ones,” Minnesota coach Chris Finch said. “I thought they were warranted. I thought (the refs) did a good job of getting control of the game from that point of view. The game was very physical, but it wasn’t a very dangerous and out-of-control game.”
While Gobert said he did not feel unsafe during the scuffle, he expects the NBA to punish Green for his actions.
“I do hope that the league is going to do what needs to be done,” he said.
The Wolves are off to the second-best start in franchise history at 8-2, and are also 2-0 in the NBA's new "in-season tournament". Next up are the Phoenix Suns on the road Wednesday night.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.