A war of words escalated to a brief war on the floor between the Thunder and Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki.
After Game 1 on Saturday night, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle mentioned the physical play of opponents while defending Nowitzki.
On Sunday, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said complaining about the officiating is something Carlisle frequently has done. “Just go back to your quotes in 2011. He said the same thing then,” Brooks said of the Thunder's playoff series against Dallas last year.
Early Monday afternoon, Carlisle insisted he is not posturing for more calls from game officials.
Then with 5:04 left in the first quarter of Game 2 on Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena, there was an altercation between Nowitzki and Thunder center Kendrick Perkins following a 3-point basket by Kevin Durant.
Nowitzki and Perkins exchanged expletives while being separated by teammates.
Carlisle stormed onto the court, pointing and shouting at Perkins and the officiating crew. At one point, Perkins swatted Carlisle's hand away.
Perkins was assessed a loose-ball foul. Perkins and Nowitzki were given double-technicals for shoving each other.
The fuse actually was lit at the 6:11 mark when Nowitzki hit a 15-foot jumper while being inadvertently scratched on the forehead by Thunder forward Serge Ibaka. No foul was called.
On the way back down court, an irritated Nowitzki not-so-inadvertently gave Ibaka a forearm shiver in the back around midcourt. The shiver was missed by officials, but was noticed by just about everyone else.
Carlisle became noticeably more composed on the sideline thereafter and the Thunder wound up winning 102-99 to take a 2-0 series lead.
Following the Thunder's 99-98 victory in Game 1, Carlisle spoke of the Thunder's defensive approach against Nowitzki.
“They're going to grab and hold,” Carlisle said. “To me, a typical example is the play before the first half ends. He's getting grabbed and held, and they call a foul on Dirk because he's just reacting to all the contact. You know, that turns into a possession for them and they hit a 3. It's a big momentum play.
“I've seen this for four years. People grab and hold him all the time. I mean, all the time. He shows incredible restraint in those areas. Oklahoma City is being physical.”
OKC led the league in free throws at 26.4 attempts per game while the Mavs averaged 20.2. Dallas shot 25 free throws to OKC's 20 in Game 1. Nowitzki shot 10 free throws.
After his team's shootaround in preparation for Game 2 on Monday, Carlisle responded to the suggestion we was posturing for more favorable officiating.
“Look, if there's been a memo issued saying that if you elbow a guy in the throat it's legal, I would appreciate that memo being passed along,” Carlisle told The Dallas Morning News. “I sincerely mean this: If one of our guys elbows Durant or (Russell) Westbrook or Reggie Jackson or Cole Aldrich in the neck, that's a foul. It just happened to be a play that was missed.
“When I was asked about that, I was asked my opinion and I made two statements of fact. It was not about posturing or positioning. They were two statements of fact. You're talking about a guy that's been very difficult to officiate because of his unusual skill set and he gets played very physically and we've seen it for four years. That's a fact. That's not an attempt to lobby the league. That's a fact of life that we've had to deal with and Dirk does a great job with it.
“But, hey, it's physical. We don't expect it not to be. And we're going to have to be a little more physical tonight. That's a part of the game we feel we can pick up a little bit.”
Roughly 90 minutes before Monday's tip, Brooks tried to lighten the mood when once again asked to respond to Carlisle's latest remarks.
“He was a good roommate. He didn't snore,” said Brooks, who was roommates with Carlisle while playing for the CBA Albany Patroons. “That's all it takes, trust me. Buy me a (beer) every now and then and not snore and you're a perfect roommate. That's why I love my wife.
“I have nothing against him. He didn't want to share his $7 per diem back then in the CBA. Yeah, there's nothing (adversary between us). He's a good coach, good guy.”