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Thunder might have found its No. 1 rival -- the Memphis Grizzlies

Oklahoma City and Memphis have played some tough, emotional games, including seven-game playoff series two years ago.
by Jenni Carlson Published: November 14, 2012

We may never know exactly what happened between Kendrick Perkins and Zach Randolph in the hallway near the Thunder locker room.

But something went down.

And Thunder-Grizzlies is now a rivalry accelerated.

On a night when Memphis beat down Oklahoma City 107-97, that result will be a side note to what occurred in the bowels of The Peake in the final minutes of the game. These teams, already prepared to go at each other's throats after a heated playoff series two years ago, went at it in a whole new way.

With a little over two minutes left in the game, Perk and Randolph got on official Ken Mauer's last nerve. The two players had been jawing at each other all night. It's what both of these passionate players do with regularity, working to get under the skin of their opponents and doing all they can to get an advantage.

Finally, Mauer had seen enough.

He whistled both with double technicals and ejections.

It was the right move.

“I don't know exactly what happened; I haven't talked to Perk,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of what happened on the court. “I think the referees are just trying to control the game and throw both of ‘em out so nothing happens. I can appreciate that because in a game like that, you don't want anything crazy to happen.”

Thing is, something crazy may have happened anyway.

As officials worked to sort everything out between Perk and Randolph, both of whom were pesky instigators in a fantastic, dramatic seven-game playoff series two years ago, the players kept jawing.

Then, they started bowing up toward each other.

Uh oh.

Players stepped in to separate them and get them off the court, but Perk and Randolph kept staring each other down and jawing.

When Perk turned to leave the court, he didn't walk off.

He sprinted.

Rarely have we seen the big fellow move so fast. videographer Tim Money was in the bowels of the arena, setting up for the postgame press conference in a room that is right next door to the Thunder locker room, which is only about 20 steps from the visitor's locker room. He and others in the press conference room heard yelling in the hallway. They thought nothing of it at first; with several restaurants and bars around the court-level, drunk and disorderly folks occasionally have to be escorted out.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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