OAKLAND - Four minutes into the second of half of Tuesday's 116-102 win over the Nuggets, Warriors forward Kevin Durant seemed to have enough with official Zach Zarba.
Following a 3-point attempt, one that was defended by Nuggets forward Paul Milsap, Durant set his sights on Zarba as he ran back down the floor, complaining he didn't have room to land, earning his first technical. Then, seconds later, despite DeMarcus Cousins playing the ironic role of peace maker, Durant yelled his way into a second technical and ejection, his 15th on the season.
For Durant, who didn't speak with reporters following the game, the ejection was a reminder of the line Golden State has toed for much of the last two seasons and, more importantly, behavior they'd like to avoid getting reprimanded for in the postseason.
"I thought he deserved the first technical," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "I didn't think he deserved the second one. I was surprised, I watched the whole thing. I didn't think he deserved to be ejected but I think Zach Zarba is one of the best officials in the game and so I think I have no complaints with Zach, he knows what he's doing, he's a fantastic official. I never really got an explanation but we move on."
Durant's ejection, and the upcoming fine, caps an interesting five-day stretch for the Warriors. Seven hours before Tuesday's matchup, the NBA announced that it fined Durant $15,000 and Stephen Curry $25,000 for public criticism of the referee Marat Kogut following Friday's 131-130 loss to the Timberwolves, while Draymond Green got fined $35,000 for tweets that may have compared Kogut to shamed referee Tim Donaghe.
This season, the Warriors have accumulated $315,985 in fines, including 49 technicals and three ejections. In the last week alone, Warriors' players have earned six technical fouls, including one ejection.
Five years ago, during the first round of the Western Conference playoffs against the Clippers, the Warriors routinely complained about LA's attitude towards the officials, specifically how Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Doc Rivers had an issue with every call against them. Now, a half-decade and four NBA Finals later, it's Golden State who has gotten the wrap of ref hunters.
With 15 technical fouls apiece this season, Green and Durant find themselves among the league leaders in the category. Still, with the playoffs approaching, Kerr doesn't seem worried about the potential ramifications down the line.
"I'm not concerned with that," Kerr said. "The officials do a great job. It's a really brutally difficult job in this league. I think we can be better, our poise, myself included. You go into each game, you're excited, you're going to yell at the refs, both teams are, but you've got to keep your poise throughout."
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"I don't know," Green added. "I gave up trying to figure out the refs a long time ago."
Perhaps the most jarring takeaway from Durant's ejection Tuesday night was how he was playing before the play, as he poured in 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting, helping the Warriors build a 16-point halftime lead. Over his last five games, Durant has been a model of efficiency, making 66 percent of his shots, adding 7.6 assists and 6.2 rebounds. However, with the amount of time Durant and the Warriors are disagreeing with the officials, improvement will be vital over the next few months in the postseason.