OKC Thunder notebook: Avery Johnson and Jalen Rose defend Russell Westbrook for getting on Kevin Durant

Westbrook and Durant dismissed it after the game, saying it was just a heat-of-the-moment-type situation. On Thursday, ESPN analysts and former point guards Rose and Johnson backed Westbrook, saying they saw nothing wrong with the exchange.
by Anthony Slater and Erik Horne Published: May 22, 2014
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As the Spurs made their game-changing run late in the second quarter on Wednesday night, Kevin Durant continued to get burned by Danny Green’s long-range shooting.

Twice in the final three minutes of the first half, Green sprung free for an uncontested three because of a defensive breakdown by Durant. On the last one, following a timeout by coach Scott Brooks, an animated Westbrook let Durant have it on their way back to the huddle. Pointing at his temple, cameras caught Westbrook telling Durant to “wake up,” leading to a heated back-and-forth between the two throughout the timeout.

Westbrook and Durant dismissed it after the game, saying it was just a heat-of-the-moment-type situation. On Thursday, ESPN analysts and former point guards Jalen Rose and Avery Johnson backed Westbrook, saying they saw nothing wrong with the exchange.

“I didn’t like it, I loved it,” Johnson said. “I think we need more of that. People get confused about the perception of what was going on. That was two star players – specifically his teammate, who happens to be Kevin Durant – accountable. Accountable for missing a rotation, accountable for not being as focused defensively as he should have been. It happens in the huddles of timeouts all the time. That outward display of passion and accountability, I loved it.”

Said Rose: “On a winning team you can chastise your teammate, and it’s OK because you have the same championship-caliber goals. On a losing team, it becomes an argument. Whether it’s a superstar or it’s a guy that’s a Derek Fisher on the team at this point in career, or Caron Butler at this point in his career, everybody has an equal voice — especially if you’re right. At that point, Russell Westbrook... what he was telling KD was accurate.”

ROSE LAMENTS IBAKA LOSS

On that same conference call, Rose gave his opinion on the absence of Serge Ibaka and how heavy an impact that it has had on the team.

“When you lose your third-best player like Serge Ibaka – your most agile frontcourt player that can rim protect but also make 15- to 18-foot shots when he gets going, can make threes, can play center in smaller lineups – it gives them flexibility and versatility, and also it gives them confidence,” Rose said. “When Russell gets a little emotional during the game or KD may think about putting his head down, the first person that’s always over there to grab one of them or to thump them in the chest, or tap ’em on the backside or the back of the head is always Serge Ibaka. So, to miss that player, it does take away the heart and soul of the team.”


by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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by Erik Horne
Online Sports Editor
Erik Horne joined The Oklahoman as a sports web editor/producer in September 2013, following a five-year stint at The Ardmoreite (Ardmore) – first as a sports writer, then sports editor. At The Ardmoreite, Horne reported on everything from prep...
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