NBA

'He doesn't deserve a chance' – Nurkic hits out at Green while Durant hails Curry following last-gasp Warriors win

By Sports Desk February 11, 2024

Jusuf Nurkic hit out at Draymond Green after the pair exchanged words and taunts during the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry-inspired win over the Phoenix Suns.

The resurgent Warriors won 113-112 thanks to Curry's 33-foot 3-pointer in the dying seconds on Saturday.

But while Curry wrote the headlines, and received high praise from all involved, including former teammate Kevin Durant, Green and Nurkic were involved in a verbal tussle.

Green has been careful with his behaviour since he returned from an indefinite NBA suspension in January. He had been banned because he had hit Nurkic in the face during a clash between the Warriors and the Suns in December.

But Nurkic does not believe Green has learned any lessons.

"It's sad," he said. "He didn't learn anything. It's just a matter of time.

"He's going to hit somebody else again. I take everything back, what I said. He doesn't deserve a chance."

Nurkic taunted Green by slapping the floor twice with a "too small" gesture during the third quarter, with the Warriors star returning the favour when he scooped the ball over the Suns center two minutes later.

"You can't be a nothing defender if you're going to do that," Green said of Nurkic.

"You probably outweigh me by 70 pounds and you get put in the rim? Got to be more careful.

"I thought I was great tonight. He tried to get in my head, and it didn't work. If he wants me to walk around quiet, like him, I'm never going to do that. Quiet guys don't win.

"He can keep rocking with that same horse that he rode in on. He can ride his a** right out of here on that same horse. It's not working."

Curry laughed off Nurkic's comments.

"He's given us a lift every game he's been back," Curry said of Green. "He connects, obviously, our defense, but you can talk about his defense every game.

"What he did offensively tonight, especially in the fourth quarter, he gave us great energy in the sense of having that competitive spirit you need to win a game like tonight, to meet the moment.

"Draymond knows how to walk the line that he needs to walk. This is probably the best game that you've seen it.

"You can tell when someone is in your head when you go out of your way to celebrate. Then Draymond comes back at him. All of the talk, Draymond was in his head, plain and simple."

Warriors coach Steve Kerr likewise defended Green.

"That month off, that suspension was real," Kerr said. "[Draymond] knew that his career was on the line or is on the line. He understands that he's got to be the guy he's been the last nine years, not the one he's been the last year. I see him doing that."

Ultimately, it was Curry's quality that settled the contest. The two-time MVP finished with 30 points, nine rebounds and six assists, with his match-winning moment coming when Bradley Beal missed an attempted steal, after Brandin Podziemski had picked out Golden State's talisman.

"He's the best to ever shoot it," Beal said. "So you know the result after that."

For Durant, who played alongside Curry with the Warriors, there was not much more the Suns could have done to deny his former teammate.

"You give him a look like that for the game, he's licking his chops," Durant reflected. "I still think we could've had that steal. It's a tough play. Sometimes guys are just that great."

Kerr added: "We were due. We were due for one of these tight games to go our way. But the guys earned it. It didn’t just happen."

The Warriors have now won their last four games and sit 10th in the Western Conference with a 25-25 record, while the Suns are sixth on 31-22.

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