Apparently, kicking a man in the groin can bring bad karma.
Or, it can inspire other men to greatness.
In either case, the Western Conference Finals took a drastic turn on Sunday night after Golden State forward Draymond Green kicked Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams in the Down Under.
It was the second game in a row the Thunder’s Big Kiwi hit the floor following a wayward leg from Green. This time looked intentional, measured, purposeful, and for his efforts, Green received a Flagrant 1 foul.
“I think it was intentional,” said OKC’s Russell Westbrook. “That’s two times in the last two games. I don’t think you can keep kicking somebody in their private areas.”
The Thunder, meanwhile, received a shot in the, uh, arm, scoring 24 of the next 29 points against the defending champ and hopeful “greatest team ever” after Green’s dirty deed.
Oklahoma City broke away to a 133-105 victory that wasn’t nearly that close and sets the Thunder up nicely for Tuesday’s Game 4 back at Chesapeake Arena.
It was a classic blowout.
The Thunder, loser by 27 in Game 2, led by as many as 41 in a near flawless third quarter. OKC closed the half on a 32-7 run. The Warriors — an NBA record 73-9 during the regular season, remember — made just 2-of-22 field goals as the Thunder pulled away to a laugher.
Green, however, was amazingly accurate, kicking his right foot up into Adams’ groin after Adams had fouled him going up for a shot.
That sent Adams to his hands and knees, and it fired up the Thunder and the feisty crowd of 18,203.
Former NBA discipline czar Stu Jackson tweeted that Green should have received a Flagrant 2, the interpretation of which could be forthcoming from the league office. That could mean no Draymond Green for Game 4 — no biggie, maybe, since Green basically took himself out of this game with a 1-for-9, 6-point, 4-rebounds, 4-turnover performance in which his plus/minus was minus-43.
But Golden State coach Steve Kerr went the other way.
“I would think they would rescind it. No, honestly,” Kerr said, perhaps not having yet seen all the replay angles. “Stuff like that happens all the time. There’s contact, people’s arms (and) legs flailing. If they think it’s on purpose, play the game. You know? This stuff happens all the time.
“Westbrook kicks out his feet on every 3, and there is contact,” Kerr said. “I mean, that’s just part of the game.”
“There’s no intent,” said Steph Curry, ever the company man. “Watching the replay, I think that’s clear.”
What’s really clear is that Oklahoma City played inspired basketball after Green’s cheap shot.
“When you get to this point of the season, you’ve got to be a smart team,” said Kevin Durant. “We can’t let anything distract us. That’s always been, like, the mantra. … Everybody stayed together and we just kept playing. That’s one thing we always said: keep playing no matter what. And tonight we kept our foot on the gas and kept cruising.”
One thing is virtually certain: Oklahoma City was going to win this thing no matter if it was Green or one of those dirty Cobra Kais delivering the low blow.
The Thunder scored 34 points in the first quarter — the most allowed by the Warriors this postseason. Then OKC followed that up with 38 in the second quarter and an OKC-playoff-record 45 in the third quarter.
Durant fixed his turnover plague, went to the rim repeatedly and finished with 33 points. Westbrook had 30 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. Dion Waiters suddenly started finishing like Michael Jordan and scored 13 points. Serge Ibaka played like old Serge Ibaka, dunking with impunity and even knocking down a couple of 3s. Enes Kanter had 10 points and 12 rebounds. And defensive stopper Andre Roberson actually played like a defensive stopper, frustrating Curry into several hurried possessions and dropping three 3s for 13 points.
Oklahoma City shot 17-of-22 in third period, swelling a 25-point halftime lead to 37.
Game over. No worries of a blown fourth-quarter lead by OKC this time. Not even close.
The Thunder outscored Golden State 62-44 in the paint, 21-16 on second-chance points and 29-13 on fast-break points. With Adams dinged and limited to 17 minutes, Oklahoma City went small and still outrebounded the Warriors 52-38.
One thing to keep in mind: Golden State trailed both Memphis and Cleveland 2-1 during last year’s playoffs and came back to win both series. These Warriors have mettle, and talent. Tuesday’s game is huge. Keeping home-court advantage and taking a 3-1 lead back to Oakland may be the only way Oklahoma City advances to its second trip to the NBA Finals.
Unless maybe someone kicks Steven Adams in the groin again.