It was 12:40 a.m. Tuesday when Thunder center Kendrick Perkins finally returned to his locker room stall and spoke to what transpired roughly 3½ hours earlier during his team's 102-99 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night in Chesapeake Energy Arena.
With 5:04 left in the first quarter, there was an altercation between Perkins and Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki following a 3-point basket by Kevin Durant.
Nowitzki and Perkins exchanged expletives while being separated by teammates.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle stormed onto the court, pointing and shouting at Perkins and the officiating crew. At one point, Carlisle approached Perkins, who swatted his hand away.
Perkins was assessed a loose-ball foul. Perkins and Nowitzki were given double-technicals for shoving each other.
"Well, it happens. Playoffs, you get tangled up," Perkins explained. "Nothing personal, just playoff basketball, so it happens."
Nowitzki's take essentially was the same.
"Just two teams playing hard," Nowitzki said. "They really came at us early and we had to respond physically. He tried to bully me and I bullied him back a little. I don't think the play was anything special."
During his post-game interview session, Carlisle said: "We don't like the cheap shots when they give 'em, and they don't like 'em if we give 'em. That's the nature of the competition. … The dirty (expletive) has got to stop."
Perkins' response to Carlisle's assessment?
"Uh, nothin'," Perkins said. "It's just playoff basketball. Just grown men out here playing basketball and trying to advance. You're just out here playing. It's nothing to hurt nobody or nothing like that. Either side is (not) going to bow down. They're not. We're not. So we're just out there competing at a high level."
Veteran point guard Derek Fisher, who is stationed in a stall next to Perkins, was asked what he thought of the altercation.
"I don't know if I'd call it an altercation," Fisher said. "These two teams have played just about more than anybody in the league in the last two years. There isn't much space on the floor to operate, so offensively and defensively, guys are going to be pumping and pushing and getting after it."
The Thunder and Mavs indeed have met frequently the past two seasons with eight regular-season games; two preseason games this season; and seven playoff games with two more to come by Saturday.
For OKC, this is the second straight playoff series against Dallas.
"Each side knows each other's personnel and scouting reports," Perkins said. "They probably know all our plays, we know all their plays, so it's really like will-power. A lot of it is just mental toughness and heart and who's going to go get it."