Russell Westbrook's behavior in the third quarter of the Thunder's victory over Memphis Thursday dominated TNT's postgame coverage.
Westbrook barked at teammate Thabo Sefolosha, took a wild shot that prompted coach Scott Brooks to pull him, and became enraged as assistant coach Maurice Cheeks tried to counsel him on the bench. Westbrook knocked over a chair and stormed off the court into a tunnel at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Here's what Westbrook said about the incident in a interview with TNT's Craig Sager:
Sager: "Everything was going your way. You had a big lead. You were playing terrific, and all of a sudden (in the)third quarter words were exchanged. What go you so upset?"
Westbrook: "Ah, nothing. Just a little miscommunication."
Sager: "Between you and Thabo?"
Westbrook: "Nah, just miscommunication."
Sager: "I know that happens once in a while. All's well that ends well. But at times do you think you need to control your temper more?"
Westbrook: "I control it like a man, like I did."
Sager: "What's that mean?"
Westbrook: (No response)
Sager: "Put it behind you and go ahead and win?"
Westbrook: "If that's what you say, bro."
TNT studio analysts Kenny Smith, Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley discussed the incident, with Smith and Barkley saying the Thunder has a team chemistry problem.
Smith: "Chemistry is a fragile thing ... I hate to walk around the locker room on egg shells on a guy when he does something like that. Now you can't act natural around this guy for a couple days, and that really messes your team morale up."
O'Neal: "Westbrook is one of the leaders of this team and in order to be a great leader you have to be a great listener. He messed up. Sefolosha's right. Sefolosha's man doubled down with five seconds (left on the shot clock). He should have kicked it out. That's smart basketball. Sefolosha said, 'yo, pass the ball.' He got upset. He's wrong. He knows he's wrong. Move on."
Barkley: "I don't think he knows he's wrong or he wouldn't be acting like that. Listen, Maurice Cheeks and my man Scott Brooks got to handle this. This has been going on for years now. But now they're an elite team. It's championship or bust. And we said the same (thing), this is like the third year in a row we've said that.
"Just go back a couple years ago they were getting on his case. Then last year he played all right, then he shot too much in the Finals. And now we're in the middle of the season and at some point Scott and Maurice got to go, "Hey dude, you either got to grow up or we can't win a championship. Because.. when you have blowups like this, they only show up under pressure in big situations, and this is as regular-season game. Everybody's kind of chillin' getting ready for the All-Star break. This thing is going to show it's ugly head deep in the playoffs if they don't .. they've got to handle this."
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H/T: Inside the NBA