Kevin Durant and Chris Paul got testy with each other Friday night in the Thunder’s Game 3 win against the Los Angeles Clippers, and the two stars didn’t mince words during the late second quarter verbal exchange or a day later in Durant’s case.
“I don’t give a damn about Chris Paul on the court,” Durant told The Oklahoman at Saturday’s practice.
The two got into an obscenity-laced back-and-forth after Durant attempted to swipe the ball from Paul’s hands following a Clippers possession. Each player then hurled four-letter words. It was a shocking exchange for two players who have classified themselves as friends.
“It’s a different monster when you’re playing on the court,” Durant explained. “That’s with everybody. That’s that competitive nature that comes out. That’s what I respect about this game and I respect about players who don’t let their friendship off the court mess with their teams, because it’s us against them. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s fun for me.”
Clippers players aren’t the only ones the Thunder is getting into it with.
Thunder players are attacking each other in this semifinals series.
In each of the last two games, a pair of Thunder teammates have gotten into heated arguments on the court. In Game 2, Durant and Reggie Jackson had a hostile verbal dispute. In Game 3, Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook had to be separated before emotions escalated.
“That’s healthy. Because we like each other,” Durant insisted. “It’s not like I just don’t like Reggie, or Serge just doesn’t like Russ. We talk about it after the games. We laugh about it after the games. But it’s going to happen. I think it’s healthy. We all know how we are as individuals. I know Reggie, I know Serge and I know Russ, and I know it’ll happen throughout a game. It’s almost kind of funny but it’s healthy for our group because everybody wants to win so bad. We have that competitive edge and we want to see each other do well. So I don’t think anything’s wrong with it.”
Durant chewed out Jackson for an errant entry pass in Game 2, and Jackson took exception to the manner in which Durant got in his face, telling him to “Wake the (expletive) up.” It’s unclear why Ibaka and Westbrook were jawing.
A one-time weakness has turned into a significant strength for the Thunder in these playoffs.
Oklahoma City has out-rebounded its opponent in each of its 10 games this postseason. The Thunder holds a sizeable 480-399 advantage in that category entering Sunday afternoon’s Game 4 against the Clippers.
Three different Thunder players are averaging at least eight rebounds this postseason, and five Thunder players are pulling down at least four per game.