Memphis forward Quincy Pondexter led the charge, making all three of his 3-point attempts and two free throws to tally 11 second-quarter points. His play characterized how the Thunder's bench got worked, as it allowed the Grizzlies to go on a 7-0 run that relinquished all Thunder momentum.
Rudy Gay then took the torch and kept the Thunder at bay with 18 second-half points. Going head-to-head with Kevin Durant (game-high 34 points, 10 rebounds and five assists), Gay matched his good friend and reigning three-time scoring champion shot for shot.
“Rudy Gay got hot,” Brooks said. “When you give a team an opportunity to get hot it's tough to turn them off.”
Perkins and Randolph couldn't seem to turn off their emotions.
After incessant jawing during a stoppage in play with 2:05 remaining, the two were tossed by referee Ken Mauer, who had warned both players throughout the game to knock off their shenanigans. As the two were being separated, Randolph, using a closed fist and a thumb, motioned in the direction of the locker room to Perkins. After a few more barbs, Perkins apparently obliged and sprinted off the court, pass the team's bench and into the tunnel.
Perkins declined comment following the game.
Other players downplayed the incident that was seen on the court.
“We always battle with these guys, especially our bigs,” said Durant. “I don't think they should have got thrown out. But those guys always battle, man. It's nothing more than that. Pushing and shoving, that's what the game is about. We have two physical bigs and they have two physical bigs. It wasn't more than that. Just talking.”
Said Westbrook: “I think (the refs) probably just got tired of both teams going back and forth. Stuff like that happens throughout the game.”
It can only add fuel to a fiery rivalry that has been rapidly growing since these two teams hooked up in the second round of the playoffs two years ago and supplied a riveting seven-game series.
“That's what makes it fun,” Gay said.