Tempers Flare As Thunder Roll Past Shorthanded Mavs
By Randy Renner
It was just a couple weeks ago that Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook told reporters he had sworn off doing anything that would prompt an official to whistle him for a technical foul.
“I finally realized they’re not gonna change their call so I just have to stop doing stupid s---,” Westbrook said at the time.
His superstar teammate didn’t believe the self-imposed moratorium on technicals would last. When asked if he was buying in Kevin Durant told reporters moments after Westbrook’s declaration, “Hell no.”
And turns out KD was right. But Westbrook was egged on by two Dallas Mavericks who are known more for their mouths than their playing ability.
The Thunder clobbered the Mavericks 108-89 Wednesday night, given a helping hand by Mavs coach Rick Carlisle who benched all five of his regular starters for rest. The game was overshadowed a bit by a couple of incidents in the second quarter.
The trouble began with 5:17 left in the second quarter when Mavs point guard J.J. Barea appeared to throw a blind elbow toward Westbrook, which led to pushing, shoving and jawing among all 10 players on the court. Replays showed Dallas center Charlie Villanueva grabbing Westbrook by the throat to keep him from going after Barea.
No bench players came out but many coaches and security officials from both teams helped the game officials break up the scrum.
After an officials' review, Barea, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka each received a technical foul and Villanueva drew two technicals and was tossed.
About four minutes later, Barea was guarding Westbrook closely on a fast-break and bumped into him. Officials called a foul on Barea but the pair continued locked arm-in-arm and Russ pushed away from Barea's grasp while yelling, “Get the f--- off me man!” That drew another technical foul and Westbrook was automatically ejected from the game.
Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan and Durant said they didn't agree with the second technical.
"Barea was arguing with the ref and coach Carlisle was arguing with the ref to give Russ a tech," Durant said. "You knew it was going to come after what happened early on. If that whole thing didn't happen before, that wouldn't have even been a tech. I guess they had to kind of control the game, but it was unfortunate. I'll end it there."
Barea then became public enemy #1 for fans inside Chesapeake Energy Arena who booed him every time he touched the ball after Westbrook’s ejection.
As far as the game itself the Thunder took control early leading by 13 in the first quarter and by as many as 29 later in the game. But as has become typical with this team the Thunder let up late in the third quarter and early in the fourth allowing the Mavs to creep to within 14 points before finally slamming the door.
Durant led all scorers with 29 points on 9-for-14 shooting overall and 4-for-8 from three. He also grabbed 10 rebounds. Ibaka had a double-double too with 20 points and 11 boards.
Dion Waiters broke out of his funk with a solid shooting night going 6-for-13 overall and 3-for-6 from beyond the arc to finish with 18 points and backup point guard Cameron Payne bounced back from a bad shooting night in Minnesota the night before to score 10 points on 4-for-6 overall and 2-for-3 from deep.
OKC held the Mavs “B” team to 39.0 percent shooting, outrebounded them 54-41 and outscored them in transition 20-6.
Two of the biggest hickies were turnovers (again) the Thunder had 18 of those and they had a terrible night at the free throw line, hitting just 17 of their 29 attempts (58.6 percent).
Playing just less than 15 minutes before getting tossed Westbrook never saw the ball go through the nets, missing all three of his shots from the field and all four of his free throws. It was just the second time in his career he’s been shut out. Westbrook did dish eight assists though and pulled down seven rebounds.
One game shy of the halfway mark of the season the Thunder are now 28-12 and continue to hold down third place in the Western Conference. They continue their three-game home stand Friday night against Minnesota, a game that might be pretty interesting to watch.
Donovan admitted he thought his team lost focus Tuesday night in Minneapolis when the Timberwolves came back from way down to get within three points of the Thunder before Durant went off for 12 points in the final three minutes to secure the win.
Hopefully their upcoming Minnesota matchup will have the Thunder’s full attention and avoid any drama toward the end of the game.