Thunder-Rockets rivalry has its most dramatic turn

by Anthony Slater Published: March 11, 2014


photo - Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, bottom, reacts after a foul by Houston Rockets guard Pat Beverley, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Looking on are Rockets forward Terrence Jones (6) and Thunder center Hasheem Thabeet (34). (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, bottom, reacts after a foul by Houston Rockets guard Pat Beverley, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 11, 2014. Looking on are Rockets forward Terrence Jones (6) and Thunder center Hasheem Thabeet (34). (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

“Two great teams that want to win,” Harden said postgame. “It’s just that simple. Any time you get that in the NBA, it’s gonna get physical.”

But the chippiness wasn’t done there.

Kevin Durant and Francisco Garcia, maybe feeling a bit left out, decided to renew their budding feud.

In last year’s playoffs, Garcia frustrated Durant with his physical style of play, hounding the Thunder superstar all over the court.

In the third quarter, Houston sicked him on Durant again. And at one point, the two got tangled up, enticing Durant to shove Garcia in the neck area and earn a technical.

As the two were separated, each tossed some pointed expletives at the other — the last of what felt like 85 heated arguments on the night.

“You take it personal,” Durant said postgame. “But it’s not like I hate this guy, I hate this team.”

When the final buzzer sounded, ending a game that had a playoff feel, the two teams treated it like a heated playoff series.

No handshakes, no friendly waves, no postgame visits. Until next time, back to their respective corners.

“To be a rivalry, you have to continue to meet in the playoffs,” Jackson said.

But that’s a fate that doesn’t sound too far off. Two young teams. Two prideful organizations. Two rosters that seem destined for success for years to come. A crash course in the making.

Tuesday night may have just been a small taste. And Kendrick Perkins wasn’t even involved…


by Anthony Slater
Thunder Beat Writer
Anthony Slater started on the Thunder beat in the summer of 2013, joining after two years as NewsOK.com's lead sports blogger and web editor. A native Californian, Slater attended Sonoma State for two years before transferring to Oklahoma State in...
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