Dubious officiating fosters chaos in Game 4 of NBA Finals

CLEVELAND — What was more confusing in Game 4 of the NBA Finals Friday night: How the heck the Cavaliers did what they did against the NBA’s premier defense or what was going on with the officiating?

Yeah, right. We voted for the officiating, too. When Game 4 ended with the Cavaliers having crawled back into the series at 3-1 and having averted a Finals sweep with a 137-116 victory over the Warriors, seven technical fouls had been assessed against the two teams.

Perhaps the biggest head-scratcher of the game came when Draymond Green was assessed a technical foul at 6:18 of the third quarter by ref John Goble.

Green, whose emotional outburst complete with flagrant foul and a Game 5 suspension helped turn the Finals last year, seemingly had received a technical in the first quarter. Two and you’re out. The boxscore said Green had a first quarter “T.”

But he didn’t. That technical had been on Golden State coach Steve Kerr.

“I thought they called it on Draymond. I thought I deserved it. But I thought I heard … the PA announcer say that it was on Draymond,” Kerr said. “So then I thought the second one Draymond was going to get kicked out, but they explained that the first one was on me.”

A TV replay showed Kerr exploding off the bench after a foul had been called on Green. The technical was called there and the announcement — and boxscore — said Green.

All of which kind of confused the Cavs.

“Yeah, well, [official] Mike Callahan told me that the first one they called was on Steve Kerr. And I said, ‘Well, it’s right here on the sheet that it was on Draymond,’ and our scorers people said the same thing,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “But evidently he said no, it was on Steve Kerr, the first one. So that was the explanation.”

So there.

The game was very physical, with a number of confrontations. At 7:26 of the third quarter, LeBron James and Kevin Durant got into a heated jawing debate, each earning a technical foul.

“You can’t take everything away from the game,” said Durant, who said it was nothing serious, just an emotional outburst between the two. “We weren’t coming to blows we were just talking. The game of basketball created that. … The nature of the game created trash talk.”

Durant stressed that you can take away the physical nature, but “emotionally that should be us.”

At 1:10 of the third, Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert and Warriors center Zaza Pachulia got involved in an on-floor tussle. It appeared on TV replays that Pachulia swatted Shumpert in the groin, but there was no flagrant foul assessed. Each player got hit with a technical. Kerr was asked what he thought of the overall officiating.

“Nice try,” Kerr said.

“It was just an incredibly physical game,” he said. “That was obvious from the beginning. Ton of fouls called early, a lot of holding and grabbing and pushing and shoving. It got out of hand a little bit, and the third quarter it seemed like the game was stopping every time.”