Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson was fined $25,000 for failing to leave the court in a timely manner and shoving a ball into the face of the Warriors’ Draymond Green in Thursday night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals after being automatically ejected for a flagrant foul 2.
In a Friday night news release announcing the fine, the NBA said it also was downgrading that foul to a flagrant 1 “upon league office review.”
The Warriors were up by eight points with five seconds remaining in the contest, but there were 2.5 seconds left on the shot clock. Warriors guard Shaun Livingston pulled up for a midrange jumper, and Thompson contested the shot, but his elbow appeared to connect with the right side of Livingston’s chest, though replays called into question whether Thompson made contact.
Official Tony Brothers immediately called a flagrant foul 2, which warrants an automatic ejection.
“I contested a shot that shouldn’t have been taken,” Thompson said after the Warriors won 124-114 in overtime . “I mean, it’s like the unspoken rule in the NBA: If you’re up 10 or 11 with about 20 seconds left, you don’t take that shot. I make the contest, and next thing I know, I was being kicked out for a good contest that we learn in training camp. I don’t know why I got thrown out.”
Asked about the incident, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he was confident the league would be fair in its review.
“Haven’t heard anything yet, but I know the league will do the right thing,” he said earlier Friday.
Lue, meanwhile, was not fined for his postgame comments about the Game 1 officiating. The coach had questioned why a charge LeBron James drew on a driving Kevin Durant in the final minute of regulation was reversed after review to a block.
“It’s never been done before where you know he’s outside the restricted [area], and then you go there and overturn the call and say it’s a block,” Lue said. “It’s never been done, ever, in the history of the game. And then tonight in the Finals on the biggest stage, when our team played well, played our ass off — man, it ain’t right. It ain’t right.”
Warriors guard Klay Thompson had said earlier Friday he wasn’t concerned about Tristan Thompson’s status for Sunday’s Game 2.
“I don’t care if he plays or not,” Thompson said on a conference call. “I mean, he’s great on the [offensive] boards. He always causes problems with that. But we’re concerned with how our game plan is going to be executed and what we have to do to limit them on the offensive glass. So I’m not too concerned if Thompson’s available.”
Regarding the ball-to-the-face move, Klay wasn’t impressed.
“I thought it was unnecessary when he shoved the ball in Draymond’s face,” Thompson said. “That was very uncalled for, especially if two guys are just talking. That’s not the way to play.”
Green began taunting Tristan Thompson by waving goodbye. When the two forwards approached each other, Thompson had some words before ramming the ball into Green’s face.
“I didn’t hear him,” Thompson said, “but I heard him, and the rest is history.”
Warriors players say veteran big man Kendrick Perkins , who was inactive, was the most fired-up Cavalier. Green was seen mimicking a cheerleader waving pompoms to mock Perkins, who was screaming toward the Warriors’ side of the court.
“I don’t care about that incident,” Green told ESPN. “It don’t matter. Life goes on.”
Livingston defended his decision to shoot at that point in the game.
“I say that we don’t take the turnover. I don’t take the turnover,” he told ESPN. “Kevin [Durant] threw me the ball, and he threw it to me like we were still playing. JR [Smith] was still guarding him, you know. No disrespect. We just play the game. So, that’s what it was. … It’s the Finals. It’s all love. … It was like a YMCA pickup game in the last 30 seconds.”