Ja Morant was not happy with Jordan Poole after Game 3 of the Grizzlies-Warriors NBA playoff series Saturday night.
Morant suffered a leg injury late in the fourth quarter that he initially tried to play through, but he ultimately was forced to leave the game. Replays showed Warriors guard Jordan Poole appearing to grab Morant’s knee as the Grizzlies guard was going for the ball.
After the game, Morant wrote in a since-deleted tweet, “broke the code,” a callback to what Warriors coach Steve Kerr said about Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks’ flagrant foul on Gary Payton II in Game 2.
Ja Morant reacted to Jordan Poole grabbing his knee.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 8, 2022
MORE: Ja Morant injury update
Morant tried to collect a loose ball as he was being guarded by Poole and Andrew Wiggins. As he went for the ball, it appeared that Poole pulled on Morant’s right knee. Morant exited the game and later went to the locker room.
The Warriors won 142-112 to take a 2-1 lead in the second-round series. Before the injury, Morant had 34 points, seven assists and three rebounds and shot 13 for 21 from the floor. The team has not announced if he will be able to return for Game 4 on Monday.
After watching the replay on a reporter’s phone postgame, Poole said he made a “basketball play” .
“I was going for the ball. Obviously, I don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” Poole said. “I’m not even that type of player. I respect everybody. Hopefully he gets better. I don’t even play like that.”
Jordan Poole watched the play where he grabbed Ja Morant’s knee at the podium. Here is his response. pic.twitter.com/VhFTmkHlCi
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 8, 2022
Tensions were already running high in this Western Conference matchup. Brooks was issued a Flagrant 2 foul in Game 2 after he hit Payton on a fast-break attempt. Officials upgraded the foul from Flagrant 1 to Flagrant 2, which involves “windup, impact and follow through to the head while the player was prone to injury.”
ICYMI: Dillon Brooks was ejected early in the 1Q for a flagrant 2 foul on Gary Payton II.
— 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐍𝐞𝐰𝐬 (@sportingnews) May 4, 2022
Kerr said that he didn’t know if Brooks’ foul was intentional, but he called the play “dirty.”
“Playoff basketball is supposed to be physical, everybody’s going to compete, everybody’s got to fight for everything, but there’s a code in this league. There’s a code that players follow where you never put a guy’s season/career in jeopardy by taking somebody out in mid-air or clubbing him across the head, ultimately fracturing Gary’s elbow,” Kerr said.
“This is a guy [Payton] that’s been toiling the last six years trying to make it in this league, finally found a home, just playing his butt off this year. In the playoffs, this should be the time of his life and [Brooks] comes in and whacks him across the head in mid-air.
“He broke the code. Dillon Brooks broke the code. That’s how I see it.”
Steve Kerr: “Dillon Brooks broke the code.”
Here is Kerr’s full soundbite on the foul that injured Gary Payton II pic.twitter.com/QALedINMYo
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) May 4, 2022
People from both sides weighed in after Game 3 on the Poole-Morant incident.
Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said Morant was injured when Poole “grabbed his knee and yanked it.” Jenkins is “curious to see what happens with that.”
Taylor Jenkins insinuates Poole “triggered” Ja’s apparent injury in the fourth quarter pic.twitter.com/3xyKREevS8
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 8, 2022
Warriors forward Draymond Green said he’s not “going to try to go tit for tat,” according to ESPN’s Marc Spears.
Draymond Green was asked if he thinks the Grizzlies are trying to paint the Warriors as a dirty team. He said he thought the Warriors were known as a soft jump shot shooting team. “Paint away,” he said.
— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) May 8, 2022
Warriors guard Klay Thompson said that Poole had no malicious intent. Then he drew a comparison to the Brooks play.
Klay Thompson: “I’ve had a bad knee injury. Jordan had no malicious intent. … He’s not out here clubbing people in the back of the head on fast breaks. We play the game the right way.”
— Marcus Thompson (@ThompsonScribe) May 8, 2022