Golden State Warriors wing Jonathan Kuminga had one reaction when he saw Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson square up to fight in Wednesday’s game.
“It was so funny,” Kuminga recalled after the December 7 game.
The incident was part of a wild series of events to end the game, with the Warriors erasing a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter only to watch the Jazz steal away a 124-123 win in the final seconds. The loss dropped the Warriors back to .500 and robbed them of what would have been a big win with Steph Curry out of the lineup.
After the game, Kuminga spoke out on the odd incident with Clarkson that turned out to be a missed opportunity for the Warriors.
Kuminga Explains Incident
The near-fight between Kuminga and Clarkson kicked off with less than a minute to go in the fourth quarter and the Jazz trailing by two points. Clarkson tried to drive to the basket for the game-tying score but Kuminga guarded him closely and blocked Clarkson’s attempt at a mid-range shot.
After Kuminga coraled the rebound, Clarkson wrapped him up and the two players exchanged shoves. As Kuminga was grabbed by teammate Donte DiVincenzo to pull him away from the scrum, Clarkson closed in and raised his fists toward Kuminga.
Clarkson was ultimately called for a flagrant foul for the incident and ejected. After the game, Kuminga said he was confused as to why Clarkson seemed to want to fight him.
“I saw him square up right away and I’m like, ‘You were the one who fouled me. You don’t got to do all that,’ ” Kuminga said, via NBC Sports Bay Area.
Clarkson said the initial scuffle was a misunderstanding, saying he didn’t mean to deliver a hard foul to Kuminga but instead tried to stop him from falling to the floor.
“They just said it was a Flagrant 2 foul because how I fouled him or something,” Clarkson said. “I didn’t make any contact with his face. I didn’t do anything. At the end of the day, I literally was trying to hold him up. But hey, the refs call what they call. They see what they see.”
Warriors Fail to Seize Opportunity
The foul on Clarkson appeared to hand the Warriors a chance to close out the game, giving them two free throws and possession of the ball. But Kuminga made only one of the free throws, and Klay Thompson turned the ball over on the next possession. The Jazz scored five of the game’s final seven points to take the 124-123 win.
With the Warriors missing a number of key veterans — Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins sat in addition to Curry — Kuminga turned in one of his best games of the year, scoring a season-high 24 points while playing strong on both ends.
After the game, Kuminga commented on the wild and unlikely finish.
“We were supposed to win that game. Just things that happen,” Kuminga said. “The NBA is crazy because out of 82 games, there’s always going to be a game just like that that you’re just going to ask yourself, ‘What happened?’”