Russell Westbrook let his emotions get the best of him Wednesday night, and it led to an altercation with Kevin Durant on the bench during a second-quarter timeout.
Westbrook never recovered and finished with arguably the worst performance of his career, scoring just four points on 0-for-13 shooting with six assists, three rebounds and four turnovers.
Westbrook's frustration appeared to have started with just 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the second quarter when he drove into the paint and kicked the ball out to Thabo Sefolosha in the corner. Sefolosha passed up a wide open 3-pointer, which prompted Westbrook to yell at Sefolosha “shoot the (expletive) ball.”
Sefolosha and other teammates, including Durant and center Kendrick Perkins attempted to calm Westbrook down immediately during an ensuing trip to the free throw line. But the emotions spilled over to the bench one minute later.
Durant appeared to again settle Westbrook, but Westbrook appeared to take exception to how Durant delivered his message. The two began shouting at each other and had to be separated.
Durant patted Westbrook on the head when the two took the court out of the timeout, and the two seemed to communicate well throughout the rest of the game.
“We’re going to disagree sometimes, like I’ve always been saying,” Durant said. “But I’m behind him 110 percent, and he’s the same way with me. And you seen when we came on the floor we clicked and everything started to work from there.”
Westbrook was not available for comment after the game. He appeared to have exited the locker room before the media entered.
DURANT REALLY WANTED SHANE BATTIER
In his first game back in Memphis since Game 6 of the second round of the playoffs, Durant admitted that his lobbying last month for former Grizzlies forward Shane Battier was real.
“I was dead serious,” said Durant, who used Twitter in late November to attempt to recruit Battier. “I wanted him since last year, after we beat them in the playoffs. I was telling a few of the guys, ‘Shane would be a good fit here for us.' He was a guy I was looking forward to playing with, but Miami jumped in and took him.”
Durant said he understood why Battier chose to sign with the Heat.
“Let's be real,” Durant said. “Guys like LeBron (James) and D-Wade and (Chris) Bosh, they're lobbying for you as well. And it was me and Nazr Mohammed and Nick Collison lobbying for him. And you look at the names there, you look at Miami, the weather and just that whole aura around those guys and of course he's going to pick them. But it's a decision that he made for him and his family. You can't really be upset about it.
“Shane's an unbelievable player, a great teammate from what I've heard. I wish him the best. If he would have come here it would have been perfect for us.”
LOOKING BACK ON LAST YEAR'S SEMIFINAL SERIES
Before his team faced the Grizzlies on Wednesday, Thunder coach Scott Brooks looked back on last year's second round playoff series one last time.
“It was a great series,” Brooks said. “It's one of those things you're thankful that you end up winning the series, but it could have gone either way. Both teams played well. Both teams grew up in that series…It was a battle every night, every possession. It was what you want in a playoff series…Both teams couldn't have played harder. Everything was left on the floor. You always want that from your players and you can accept the outcome.”
The Thunder won in seven games before losing 4-1 to Dallas in the Western Conference Finals. Durant said he remembered how the nation tuned in to watch the wildly entertaining series.
“People wouldn't expect that from two small teams,” Durant said of the series commanding so much attention. “So it's kind of cool that two small market teams are kind of showing themselves differently.”
Brooks said it's too early to call the matchup a rivalry.
“It takes years of playoff battles,” Brooks said. “It was one great one for sure.”
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins on Durant — “Kevin Durant averaged 27 points per game last year. He averaged 30 the year before. He is a scoring machine. We'd like to slow him down, but I haven't seen anybody stop him from scoring.”
Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley sprained his left ankle on the game's opening possession. He was helped off the court 24 seconds in and did not return to the game. ... Cole Aldrich made his season debut in the first quarter after Perkins and Collison were each whistled for two fouls in the first five minutes. ... Rookie guard Reggie Jackson and forward Lazar Hayward were both on the active list and dressed Wednesday. ... Oklahoma native Kristin Chenoweth, an Emmy and Tony Award-winner, will perform the national anthem prior to Thursday's game against Dallas. ... Thursday's game is the first of six Thunder games scheduled to be broadcast on TNT. It will not be shown locally on FS Oklahoma. ... Midway through the second quarter, Memphis general manager Chris Wallace presented the team's mascot “Griz” with a trophy for Mascot of the Year.
The Thunder returns to Chesapeake Energy Arena on Thursday night to face the Dallas Mavericks. It will be the fourth game in five nights for the Thunder and the first of four regular season meetings between the teams.