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The play occurred in the first quarter while Payton was going up for a dunk. Brooks came from behind and hit Payton. The Warriors player hit the deck and seriously injured his elbow. Payton was diagnosed with a fractured elbow and may miss the rest of the playoffs.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr was immediately enraged after the play and expanded on his thoughts in the post-game press conference. He said he didn’t think it was intentional, but “it was dirty.”
“Playoff basketball is supposed to be physical. Everybody is going to compete. Everybody is going to fight for everything. But there’s a code in this league,” Kerr said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “There’s a code that players follow. You never put a guy’s season/career in jeopardy, like taking somebody out in midair and clubbing him across the head and, ultimately, fracturing Gary’s elbow.
“This is a guy who has been toiling for the last six years, trying to make it in this league. He finally found a home, playing his butt off this year. In the playoffs, this should be the time of his life. And a guy comes in, whacks him across the head. He broke the code. Dillon Brooks broke the code.”
Stephen Curry said it was “kind of out of line in terms of a defenseless player going up on a layup, taking a huge windup, and everything bad that could have happened in that situation did.”
Draymond Green was a bit more profane.
“It was a bulls—t foul,” he said.
Brooks was assessed a flagrant foul on the play and ejected from the game.
Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins was told Kerr called the foul “dirty” after the game and said he trusted the officials to determine the right call.
“They reviewed it. They made their judgment, obviously (Brooks) made contact to the head. So going to trust what the refs did,” Jenkins said.
Memphis won the game 106-101.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.