NBA investigates confrontation
As is the NBA's standard procedure, the league is investigating Wednesday night's confrontation between Thunder center Kendrick Perkins and Memphis power forward Zach Randolph at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Both players were ejected with 2:05 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Grizzlies' 107-97 victory and had an altercation in a hallway near the Thunder locker room after leaving the court. The players were separated by Oklahoma City police officers patrolling the area.
Security officials later said there was no altercation and there would be no investigation, but the league office confirmed Thursday it was looking into the incident to potentially levy fines and/or suspensions for both players.
Afterward in the locker room, Randolph downplayed what transpired. “It wasn't nothin',” he said.
Asked what was said on the court, Randolph refused to share details.
The game was nationally televised on ESPN and a courtside microphone picked up what was said.
Perkins: “I'll meet you by the bus.”
Randolph: “I'll beat your (expletive).”
Asked Thursday what led to the incident, Perkins said: “Just too much talking. I wasn't frustrated, but at the same time I have a problem with losing. … You do have to see this team three more times and we can't be showing no signs of weakness.”
Perkins said there is no reason for concern with the Thunder's 6-3 record that already includes two home losses, but is he frustrated in any way?
“I wouldn't say that,” Perkins said after Thursday's light workout that followed a film session. “We're 6 and 3. Not bad. The way I look at it, out of every 10 games, we should go no less than 7 and 3.”
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins spoke of the Russell Westbrook-Kevin Durant combination.
“They have that other guy that's like a Tasmanian devil,” Hollins said of Westbrook. “That guy is so quick, so aggressive, so tough and he's looking to attack every time he has the ball. One of the things that makes Durant's job easier is having Westbrook have the ball on his hands. You have to contend with Westbrook, and there's Durant, who's up for Most Valuable Player. That's a heckuva thing to have.
“That's kind of like Magic (Johnson) and Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar). You've got Magic who you have to contend with. Then he says, ‘Ah, man. I've had enough,' and he throws it to Kareem. I think it's a great combination that they have here.”
The Memphis bench outscored the Thunder bench 31-13 on Wednesday. “That's what we need. We need our bench to play good every night,” Randolph said. “It gives us a chance to do something special in this league.”
Meanwhile, the Thunder failed to get newly acquired sixth man Kevin Martin involved in the offense. It was by far the most frustrating night to date for Martin, who shot just four times in 33 minutes (making one 3-pointer) and finished with a team-worst minus-13 in point differential while on the court.
“We need him to take more shots,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “He's a dynamic offensive player that can get points in bunches. We need to find him more shots. I have to do a better job with that, our team does and also him. We'll figure it out. Not enough possessions. Not enough opportunities for him to utilize what he brings to our team.”
With consecutive victories over Miami (104-86) and OKC (107-97), the Grizzlies became the first team in six years to defeat the previous season's NBA finalists within the first seven games of the next season. The last team to do so was the 2006-07 Houston Rockets. … Former Thunder sixth man James Harden scored 30 points in the Rockets' 100-96 victory over New Orleans on Wednesday night, marking the third time in eight games Harden scored at least 30 points. He is the third player in Rockets history to have at least three 30-point games in his first eight games with the team. Elvin Hayes did it in 1968 and Martin did it in 2010.
Perkins on getting Martin more involved in the offense: “It's on all of us. Bigs, we've got to do a better job of getting him open. We've got to do a better job of getting him the ball … but he's got to be more demanding also. Kevin can't be quiet on this team.”
BY JOHN ROHDE