OAKLAND — About six hours after the NBA served Draymond Green with a $25,000 fine for ripping the league’s referees, the reigning defensive player of the year took the floor and did what he always does. He flooded the box score.
In the Golden State Warriors’ 124-114 win over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night, Green went for a season-high 23 points, while tallying five rebounds, 10 assists, one steal and three blocks.
“We only need whatever the game calls for from Draymond,” head coach Steve Kerr said of Green’s uncharacteristic offensive assertiveness.
“There’s games when he might take two shots and we’re fine. Some games call for more scoring. Tonight was one of those.”
What the vociferous forward didn’t do was shout at any referees. Green didn’t shout at anybody — until the final play of the third quarter when Nick Young cut the wrong way on a fast break, resulting in a turnover and a reprimand from the league’s foremost trash talker.
Before the win, which pushes the Warriors’ win streak to five and lifts the club’s record to 33-8, Kerr had stressed the importance of striking a tactful tone with the officials.
“It’s a horrible job. I can’t imagine being a referee. It is an awful job,” Kerr said. “And I think they have a very difficult job and there’s got to be two-way communication and that’s on both sides. There has to be respectful communication.”
After the unusually quiet night from the outspoken all-star, Kerr admitted that Green’s restraint wasn’t so much diplomatic as it was strategic.
With an NBA high 11 technicals through 35 games, Green is producing a season oddly similar to the one he played a season ago.
“Draymond is smart,” Kerr explained.
NBA players trigger an automatic one-game ban for accruing 16 technicals.
“He knows exactly how many technicals he has,” Kerr continued. “If you remember last year, he climbed all the way to 15 and then he stopped getting technicals. There’s a motivation there — you don’t want to get fined, you don’t want to get suspended. So, I’ll bet you the same thing happens.”
Kerr’s recollection is only slightly off. Green picked up No. 14 on March 20 and then didn’t earn No. 15 until April 10 in the second-to-last game of the regular season.
For Green, a one-game suspension and the attendant fine would make his $25,000 punishment look like nothing. Dividing Green’s $16.4 million salary by 82 — the total number of regular season games — reveals that the defensive anchor would owe the league approximately $205,000.
When asked about his calm evening against the Nuggets, Green replied in also the exact same fashion as his boss.
“I’m a pretty smart guy,” Green said. “I think. I like to think.”
“So, [it’s] just picking and choosing your spots [and] kind of knowing what to do, what not to do, when to do it and how to do it. Just being a little bit wiser. That’s about it.”