- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle profanely accused Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins of dirty play after Monday night's heated Game 2 in the first-round rematch of last season's Western Conference finals.
Perkins and Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki were called for double technicals midway through the first quarter of the Thunder's 102-99 win, which gave Oklahoma City a 2-0 series lead. Perkins and Nowitzki exchanged shoves and shouts after Perkins was called for a loose ball foul for forearming Nowitzki in the back while battling for rebounding position.
"It's playoff basketball. It's physical," Carlisle said when asked about the confrontation. "I mean, we don't like the cheap shots when they give them, and they don't like them if we give them. That's the nature of competition.
"Hey, I love hard play, clean, competitive playoff series. You throw the ball up and may the best team win, but the dirty bulls--- has got to stop. We don't want anybody getting hurt out there either way."
Carlisle, who had mentioned after Saturday's Game 1 loss that the Thunder got away with a lot of physical play against Nowitzki, confronted Perkins on the court after officials separated Nowitzki and Perkins. Carlisle shouted and pointed at Perkins, who shouted back at the Mavericks as an assistant coach and teammate Serge Ibaka held him back and directed him toward the Oklahoma City bench.
Nowitzki was boxing out on a made 3-pointer by Kevin Durant when Perkins delivered a hard forearm to his back. Perkins approached Nowitzki after the whistle blew, and Nowitzki responded by lowering his shoulder and initiating contact. Perkins shoved Nowitzki with his right hand before referee Zach Zarba separated the players, at which point they exchanged angry words.
"It's just playoff basketball," said Perkins, who had 13 points and six rebounds in the win. "I mean, just grown men out here playing basketball and teams trying to advance. You know, you're just out here playing. There's nothing to hurt nobody or nothing like that. Neither side is going to bow down. They're not, we're not, so we're just out here playing and competing on a high level."
Added Nowitzki, who scored 31 points on 10-of-19 shooting: "That play was nothing. He tried to bully me and I bullied back a little bit. We talked about some stuff and moved on. I don't think that play was anything special. It's just the playoffs, two teams going at it. It was just a hard play."
20hSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann