The drama began at the end of the third quarter, when Golden State forward Draymond Green was assessed a Flagrant Foul 2 for elbowing Griffin in the head and neck area. The Flagrant Foul 2 designation applies for contact deemed to be "unnecessary and excessive," and it carries an automatic ejection. Green departed with zero points (on 0-for-3 shooting) and one assist in eight minutes.
Griffin also received a technical foul on the play for taking exception to the contact.
Shortly thereafter, Griffin received a second technical foul for his role in a scrap with Warriors center Andrew Bogut, who received a Flagrant Foul 1 when his arm made contact with Griffin's head as the two players became entangled in the paint.
Griffin's second technical foul required an automatic ejection at the 10:42 mark of the fourth quarter. He departed with 20 points (on 8-for-16 shooting), 14 rebounds and five assists in 33 minutes.
“When you look at it, I didn’t do anything, and I got thrown out of the game," Griffin said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "To me, it’s cowardly basketball.”
L.A.'s frustration is understandable here, as Golden State players instigated both exchanges and twice contacted Griffin in or around the head area. It's possibly, if not likely, that further sanctions in the form of a fine and/or suspension will result from the two flagrant foul plays by Golden State. Griffin isn't totally innocent, as he did respond twice, but it's tough to tell a player to avoid any type of reaction when shots are being taken towards his head and when his jersey is wrapped up by his opponent.
"We were kicking their butt, and they went to something else," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said afterwards, according to the Orange County Register.
Content with the win, Warriors coach Mark Jackson downplayed the on-court messiness, which continues an ongoing rivalry between the two teams.
"We like them, Merry Christmas," Jackson said. according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "It’s good, old-fashioned ball between two teams playing for something.”
The Clippers and Warriors engaged in further pushing and shoving at the game's conclusion, with Chris Paul and Bogut setting things off by fighting for control over the ball after Jamal Crawford missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.
Again, it's possible that further sanctions, in the form of a fine or a suspension, could result from that incident, as Matt Barnes, Stephen Jackson and a number of players and coaches from both teams became involved before cooler heads prevailed.
The real hero in the game-ending fisticuffs was Kent Bazemore, who displayed excellent hopping skills on his way off the court.
Paul tallied a game-high 26 points (on 9-for-20 shooting) and 11 assists in the loss. Jamal Crawford added 19 points (on 9-for-21 shooting) for L.A.
The Warriors improved to 16-13 with the win; the Clippers dropped to 20-9 with the loss. As noted in The Point Forward's Christmas Day preview, there's been plenty of bad blood between the two teams in recent years. A sample: Griffin and Jackson exchanged words after Griffin stepped on Jackson's foot; Jackson's Warriors refused to participate in chapel with the Clippers; Jackson called Griffin a "great actor" back in January; and Bazemore and the Warriors' bench goofed off after Griffin missed a three-pointer off the side of the backboard.