Steve Kerr

Kerr, Warriors call out NBA for ‘disgusting' officiating vs. Nuggets

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Steve Kerr did his best to try to contain his anger and frustration after the Warriors' 120-114 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday, but it wasn’t easy.

There was plenty of blame to go around, from Stephen Curry’s slow offensive game to a defense that played well at times but wasn’t consistent enough, not to mention Golden State making just 14 of its 40 3-point shots at Ball Arena.

But the biggest factor -- and the target of Kerr’s ire -- was the fouling. The Warriors were called for 23 fouls, as opposed to 17 for the Nuggets.

And it wasn’t just the fouls in this game that made Kerr mad. The Warriors coach openly complained about the way refs have called them all around the league this season.

“I have no problem with the officials themselves. All across the league we have really good officials,” Kerr told reporters in Denver. “I have a problem with the way we are legislating defense out of the game. That’s what we’re doing in the NBA. The way we’re teaching officials, we’re just enabling players to BS their way to the foul line.

“If I were a fan, I wouldn't have wanted to watch the second half of that game. It was disgusting. It was just baiting refs into calls. But the refs have to make those calls because that’s how they’re taught.

“The players are really smart in this league. For over the last decade or so, they’ve gotten smarter and smarter. And we have enabled the players, and they are taking full advantage. It’s a parade to the free-throw line, and it was disgusting to watch.”

Officiating is, always has been and always will be a debatable topic. But on this day in Denver, some of the calls, in the Warriors' view, bordered on the ludicrous. That, rookie guard Brandin Podziemski said, made it difficult for Golden State to find much of a rhythm on either end.

"I think collectively we did a good job as a team, but it's kind of hard to get into a rhythm when it's free throws after free throws," Podziemski said. "... Every time the clock stops and we got to take it out the net, and they get a set defense, it just makes it tougher for us. We just got to play without fouling.

"It's hard with the rules. Players are good at selling fouls. Jokic is 4 for 12, which we love, but he shoots 18 free throws."

The unfortunate part is that the constant fouls took away from what the Warriors were able to do most of the time against Nikola Jokic. They limited the Nuggets’ big man to 4-of-12 shooting from the field, but Jokic took and made all 18 of his attempts from the stripe.

The Warriors, as a team, took 23 free-throw attempts and made 20. Jonathan Kuminga led the way, going 5 of 8, and Andrew Wiggins hit 6 of 6.

“It does cater to the guys that can sell calls,” Curry said after the game. “When there’s physicality, it’s tough because it’s inconsistent at times on either side. And from game to game, it changes -- that’s the nature of basketball. But a night like tonight where you feel like there’s physicality at one side and then kind of ticky-tack on the other, then they get into the bonus, it changes the complexity of the game.”

Curry made it clear that he doesn’t believe the Warriors play 100 percent clean and are above the fray. The two-time NBA MVP just wants there to be more consistency because it affects other parts of the game. 

“It’s not like we don’t foul -- I’m not saying that,” Curry said. “It’s just consistency is key when it comes to understanding how you can defend. It was tough tonight. Slowed the game down. Obviously [Jokic] made every free throw and changed the momentum. Played into their hands.

“Until things change, you have to adjust. But it was frustrating.”

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