MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Warriors didn't just drop a frustrating Game 2 to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinals on Tuesday night at FedExForum, they also suffered a major blow injury wise.
Gary Payton II fractured his left elbow after being hit in the head from behind on a clothes line from Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks not even three minutes into the second game of this second-round series. Payton will undergo an MRI on Wednesday for further results.
"I don't know if it was intentional, but it was dirty," Steve Kerr said after the loss. "And playoff basketball is supposed to be physical, everybody's going to compete, everybody is going 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 and clubbing him across the head, ultimately fracturing Gary's elbow."
Payton started his second straight playoff game Tuesday night, and his role was expected to be key in the series for his ability to defende Grizzlies star point guard Ja Morant, along with his athleticism on both sides of the floor. Morant scored 47 points in Game 2, 44 of which came after Payton's injury.
In the Warriors' Game 1 win, Payton scored eight points while adding seven rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. Through the Warriors' first six playoff games, Payton averaged 7.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 steal while playing 18 minutes per game.
Golden State Warriors
He has gone from going undrafted to grinding through the NBA G League and becoming a vital player for the Warriors after earning the final roster spot on the day of the regular-season opener.
"This is a guy toiling the last six years trying to make it in this league, finally found a home, just playing his butt off this year," Kerr said. "In the playoffs, this should be the time of his life and a guy comes in and whacks him across the head in mid-air."
An irate Kerr yelled "That's bulls--t, Dillon!" at the Grizzlies guard in real time, and though he didn't say the play was technically intentional, Kerr didn't hide his frustration with the fifth-year pro.
"He broke the code," Kerr said. "Dillon Brooks broke the code. That's how I see it."
The Warriors head home to San Francisco with a series split, and a serious injury concern as they hope to get some better news following Payton's MRI on Wednesday.