Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II will miss 3-5 weeks after fracturing his elbow early in Game 2 against the Memphis Grizzlies following a flagrant foul by Dillon Brooks.
An MRI on Payton II showed slight ligament damage along with his fractured left elbow following the injury suffered on Tuesday night. He apparently has yet to rule out a potential return in time for the NBA Finals, should the Warriors advance for the first time in three seasons.
Memphis forward Brooks was ejected for a flagrant foul on him on Tuesday night in the opening minutes of Game 2 in their Western Conference semifinal. Payton had X-rays on his left elbow and never returned. The Warriors said after their 106-101 loss that Payton broke his left elbow.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr said he did not know if the foul was intentional. Kerr called it dirty, as Payton got whacked across the head while in midair.
“Dillon Brooks broke the code,” Kerr said. “That’s how I see it.”
Payton was going for a layup when Brooks chased him down and swung his arm, hitting the Warriors guard across the head. Payton went down and immediately grabbed at his left arm with 9:08 left in the first quarter. Officials reviewed the play and quickly ruled it a Flagrant 2, sending Brooks to the locker room.
Told Kerr called Brooks’ flagrant foul dirty, Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said he just trusted the officials to make the call.
“They reviewed it,” Jenkins said. “They made their judgment, obviously [Brooks] made contact to the head. So going to trust what the refs did.”
Brooks missed his first three shots after going 3 of 13 in Game 1. Brooks said after shootaround earlier Tuesday he knew Memphis likely would have won the opener if he shot better.
Memphis’ top perimeter defender, Brooks’ job in Game 2 was to defend two-time NBA scoring champ Stephen Curry.
Payton missed the first free throw and made the second. Then he went to the locker room and for X-rays, never returning.
Asked after the first quarter during his interview with TNT about the physical play in the period, Kerr said: “No, that wasn’t physical. That was dirty.”
Draymond Green went down shortly after Brooks’ ejection and went to the locker room after he appeared to be elbowed in the face. As Green, who was ejected just before halftime of Golden State’s win in Game 1, walked to the locker room during a timeout, he flashed the middle finger on each hand at the fans.
Green got stitches for a right eye laceration and returned for the start of the second quarter. After the game, Green said he expects to be fined for something that felt good in the moment. He was angry at being booed with blood running down his face after being elbowed in the eye.
“I could have had a concussion,” Green said. “So, if they’re going to be that nasty, I can be that nasty too. I’m assuming the cheers was because they know I’ll get fined. Great. I make $25m a year, I should be just fine.”