Draymond Green and the Warriors probably liked their chances to win a crucial possession.
After a masterful backcourt trap forced a jump ball with 19.9 seconds left in Sunday night’s game and the Warriors trailing 104-102, Green lined up across Hornets guard Terry Rozier for a tip.
The 6-foot-6 Green has five inches on Rozier. He also has a whole lot more lifetime jump ball experience.
But Rozier somehow won the tip, giving Charlotte the final possession. He then sunk two free throws to ice the game, handing the Warriors their first loss since Oct. 28.
Upon further review, it appears the official, David Guthrie, tossed the ball slightly toward Rozier, giving the guard an advantage. When asked about the play postgame, Green added that Guthrie was still explaining the rules while he tossed the ball, which was distracting.
“He was still talking,” Green said of Guthrie. “Sitting here looking at him, then ‘Oh, sh**.’ It is what it is. I’ve got to get the tip. Life goes on…I’ve got to get the jump ball regardless of what the situation is. That’s not his fault. That’s on me.”
Even if Green had won the tip, the Warriors would’ve had to score in the half court to tie the game, something it struggled to do down the stretch. Green, as well as head coach Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry, pointed to a lack of offensive rhythm and defensive engagement as concrete reasons for Sunday’s loss.
Despite losing the tip and picking up an early technical foul, Green had another terrific game, posting 11 points, six rebounds, six assists and two blocks. On the season, Green is averaging 7.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.2 assists to go with his patented defensive ability.
Jump balls, the Hornets and Draymond Green haven’t mixed well together historically. In an oddly similar situation last February, Green was ejected in a post-jump ball scuffle with Gordon Hayward.
Green was ejected after fighting for the loose ball and the Warriors went on to lose that game, 102-100.
Neither jump ball was the sole reason the Warriors lost to the Hornets, but they were both unfortunate for Golden State and its vocal leader.