By all accounts, Sunday's game between the Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers was a physical affair between two teams fighting for Western Conference supremacy.
With 1:52 remaining in the game, it became particularly physical when Thunder forward Serge Ibaka was whistled for a Flagrant I foul after punching former Oklahoma standout Blake Griffin in the groin.
The Clippers wound up scoring seven points on one possession (two 3-pointers, plus one free throw) and took their only lead (100-99) in a game OKC eventually went on to win 108-104 before a sellout crowd at Staples Center.
“He hit my hands away,” Ibaka told reporters afterward. “He's strong, so when he grabs you, your jersey or whatever, and you try to defend yourself and rebound. So maybe you can do some move, not to hurt, (but) just to get good position, but then something happens where you get hurt in the paint. It's not anything where I want to try to hurt him. I'm not that kind of person. I just try to play hard, and that's it.
“I just tried to play hard. I really don't care if someone is dirty or not, that's not my problem. His game was intense. We all were complaining to the referees (about) some dirty stuff. It's basketball. We just played. If you can see the replay, you can see he grabbed my jersey first so I wanted to try to defend myself, (but) not to hurt him.”
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins had his own take. “I didn't see it to where it was like that flagrant,” Perkins told USA Today. “He (Griffin) took (Ibaka's) arm and knocked him down. The dude (Griffin) is known for flopping anyway, so that's what it is. I was (angry). The (Clippers') reaction after that was kind of like Serge Ibaka against Blake Griffin.
“He (Ibaka) ain't going to get the benefit of (the doubt) or what's really happening down there. You ain't seeing all the stuff that other people are doing. Serge ends up getting the bad end of the stick. I didn't like the whole thing — period. I thought it should've been a double-foul.”
Griffin said: “I guess it's a chippy game like that every time we play. We're both pretty physical teams with physical bigs. There was a lot of pushing and all that going on down low.”
NOT HALF BAD
Thunder players agreed the first half was as complete a performance offensively and defensively the Thunder has played against an elite opponent this season.
OKC led 54-41 at halftime and led by as many as 16. The Clippers had 16 turnovers, which tied for the most ever in a half against the Thunder.
Kevin Durant had 20 points and five rebounds by intermission, while Russell Westbrook added 17 points (14 in the first quarter).