Words were exchanged afterward between Atlanta's Josh Smith and anyone on the OKC sideline who was willing to listen following the Thunder's 103-94 victory inside Oklahoma City Arena on Friday night.
Smith was upset Serge Ibaka dunked with 6.9 seconds left and the game already decided. Ibaka should have simply dribbled the ball back out and allowed time to expire. Thunder coach Scott Brooks wasn't pleased either, shaking his head and frowning. Hawks guard Mike Bibby also shouted at the Thunder bench, waving his hand in disgust.
Brooks actually was more upset with point guard Russell Westbrook, who passed to a wide-open Ibaka underneath rather than holding the ball.
â€œWhen you got the game won, you run the clock out,â€ Brooks said. â€œRussell knows how I feel about situations like that. It was a mistake.â€
Kevin Durant tried to smooth things over and spoke with Smith at midcourt.
Smith also was upset about being fouled hard by Ibaka with 6:59 left in the third quarter. It appeared Ibaka's left elbow raked the top of Smith's head, which required some patchwork by team doctors, but no stitches.
The foul was incidental, not deliberate. Smith, however, thought he was hit by Ibaka's teeth.
â€œHe bit me, man,â€ Smith said. â€œI thought I needed some (stitches) â€¦ I was just in pain.â€
Ibaka, the youngest player on the Thunder roster at age 21, is in his second season and learned the game in the Republic of Congo. Although it is not outlandish to think Ibaka might not fully understand the unwritten code of the NBA, Smith wasn't buying it.
Asked if he was upset by Ibaka's dunk, or the foul, or both, Smith said, â€œYou know what it was. That's showing disrespect (dunking the ball). Everybody in the whole league knows you don't do nothing like that. I talked to Durant about it. He said he would talk to him (Ibaka) about it, and he knew that wasn't right.
â€œEverybody knows that's not proper etiquette, you know what I mean? When you're at a dinner table, you don't dig in first when you visit somebody's home. You relax and see what's going on. You check everything out before you ever get you a plate. It's just proper etiquette. You don't do that.
â€œWe won't forget that (dunk). We won't forget something like that.â€
The Thunder plays at Atlanta on March 4.
TNT CREW DEBATES THUNDER
The â€œInside the NBAâ€ crew at TNT debated Thursday night as to where the Thunder stacks up in the Western Conference.
Charles Barkley and Chris Webber said the Thunder was not one of the four best teams, while Kenny Smith noted the Thunder was only a half-game away from being the No. 3 seed in the West.
Brooks said Friday morning he did not see the exchange on TNT.
â€œWe worry about things that we can control,â€ Brooks said. â€œThat's always been our focus. People say we're not a good rebounding team. We work on it. We want to get better, there's no doubt. I think we do a good job, not a great job. We want to get better in all areas. We definitely need to get better defensively. We're not bad, we're just not as good as we're going to be. We've got time in the season to keep getting better at it."