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.
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.
Rarely have we seen the big fellow move so fast.
NewsOK.com 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.
But the yelling didn't stop.
Then, they heard things hitting the walls and the doors of the hallway. The thudding continued for several seconds.
All told, the commotion lasted at least 20 seconds.
When our man Money went into the hallway, Oklahoma City police officers and arena security staffers were overheard saying Perkins and Randolph had been the parties involved.
Oklahoma City police said no altercation occurred, and nothing is under investigation.
But something happened.
And here we thought this rivalry was hot already.
That playoff series two years ago was a classic. The Grizzlies stole a game on Thunder hardwood. The Thunder had a huge lead that it blew and lost the game. The Grizzlies had its own big lead blown in a triple overtime thriller.
And that was just in the first four games of the series.
Even last year's regular-season games were fantastic.
“We've always had great physical matchups against this team,” Brooks said. “We've always been physical with each other.”
No doubt about that.
These two teams are different yet similar. The Thunder has the slick, smooth young guns while the Grizzlies have the “Grit Grind”, and yet, both are small market teams scratching and clawing not only to make it but also to shine in the NBA.
That they are from similar cities — hardworking, blue-collar places — only adds to the shared admiration and animosity.
It's like they're brothers fighting for dibs at the dinner table.
All of that has made for a great rivalry so far. Wednesday night just took it a whole other level.
The Thunder and Grizzlies meet again on Jan. 31 in Oklahoma City.
Sign me up for that one.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. You can also like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.