The infraction occurred when Brooks chased Payton down in transition in an attempt to stop a fast-break layup. Brooks hit Payton in the head in the subsequent action; the hard foul resulted in Payton hitting the court hard and staying down for several minutes. The incident makes the second straight game in the second-round series where a starter will miss a large chunk of a playoff game due to a Flagrant 2 ejection.
“I don’t know if it was intentional, but it was dirty,” Kerr said per ESPN. “There is a code. This code that players follow where you never put a guy’s season [or] career in jeopardy by taking somebody out in midair and clubbing him across the head, ultimately fracturing Gary’s elbow … He broke the code. Dillon Brooks broke the code.”
“The line is pretty clear; you don’t hit on the head when he’s in midair, breaking his elbow. That’s where the line is.”
Payton will undergo an MRI on Tuesday for further evaluation. A timetable for his return has not been determined.
The second-round series has undoubtedly lived up to the hype. Heading into Game 2, Memphis and Golden State were aware that their series would be a physical affair. Kerr said Game 2 would be their most physical game all season, which turned out to be accurate by all accounts.
“Playoff basketball is supposed to be physical,” Kerr said. “Everybody’s going to compete. Everyone is going to fight for everything.”
Without Payton in the lineup, who started Games 1 and 2 due to his defensive acumen, the Warriors will have to rely on someone else to guard Ja Morant, who just dropped 47-points in the Grizzlies’ 106-101 win over the Warriors.
Kerr said he hopes Andre Iguodala can fill the task once he returns from a back injury, hopefully by Game 3. Another solution might be to guard the reigning Most Improved Player by committee and hopefully slow him down with different coverages and defenders.
The Grizzlies-Warriors series shifts to San Francisco on Saturday.