The cameras didn't catch it, but the broadcast's sideline reporter did.
Midway through the first half of Monday's Game 4 loss at Denver, the Thunder's All-Star duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook reportedly had a heated exchange during a timeout. TNT sideline reporter Pam Oliver reported the verbal dispute during the game.
On Tuesday, the Thunder insisted the jawing was positive.
“It was all about trying to do the right thing,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “We got to get a stop. That's what it was about. We got to stop the ball. Their point guards are getting inside the paint. The bigs and the guards have got to do a better job of stopping the basketball. That's what the conversation was about.
“It's funny because it's in the playoffs on national TV, but it happens a lot. It doesn't happen every timeout every game. But guys are emotional. Guys care about what we do and they express that and I like that. I do the same thing.”
Durant also downplayed the incident.
“We've been doing that all season,” Durant said. “That's a part of a basketball team. You're not going to always be happy all the time. … Sometimes you have to scream at guys for them to get the point. That's what we were doing.”
Westbrook and Durant didn't appear to have any odd moments on the court following the exchange. At one point, when Durant fell to the floor in the second half, Westbrook was the first to run over to Durant to help him off the court.
But following a Nuggets basket in the second half, Westbrook chewed out Serge Ibaka during a brief stoppage in play near halfcourt for what appeared to be a missed defensive assignment on Ibaka's part. The crowd erupted at the Thunder's bickering, which has been a rarely seen sight this season.
“I have no problem with it,” Brooks said. “I like that stuff. Whether it gets heated, it's never personal with our team. It's always about trying to figure out ways to get better.
“We have quite a few of those conversations during the game, whether it's one-on-one as a team is shooting a free throw or during a timeout or at halftime or at the end of a game.”