Durant, Westbrook downplay exchange
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said Wednesday night's altercation between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook during a timeout should not be analyzed as a referendum on their ability to co-exist.
Instead, it should be seen as what it was: competitors whose juices were bubbling during an especially frustrating moment in their win against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Late in the second quarter, Westbrook became agitated when he drove the lane and passed out to open teammate Thabo Sefolosha in the corner. Sefolosha passed on the shot and Westbrook said he yelled at Sefolosha to shoot the ball.
Westbrook's anger spilled over during a timeout a minute later and escalated to the point that Westbrook and Durant exchanged words.
Prior to Thursday night's home game against the Dallas Mavericks, Westbrook reiterated he was not upset with Durant.
"It's a part of the game. It never was meant to spill over, so it wasn't like I did it on purpose to spill over," Westbrook said. "I was just telling my guy to shoot the ball when he was open. It wasn't like I was telling him something wrong to do. I'm telling my guy to shoot the ball and then the rest what was happening had nothing to do with that play. But you never get the full story unless you were there to see exactly what happened."
Durant said the Thunder were frustrated after allowing an 11-point lead to slip to three. He said the incident on the bench wasn't out of the ordinary during the course of a highly-charged game against a rival and the subject should be dropped.
"People keep saying that we had this and that on the sideline; nobody seen nothing," Durant said. "They didn't hear anything. Somebody said that something happened. Everybody on the bench was yelling; coaches were yelling, not at each other in a bad way, but trying to get everything in order. We gave up a few points in that possession, so we were trying to get back in order. We were playing a good game and we kind of slacked off a little bit, for two or three minutes, so everybody was yelling. It wasn't just myself or Russell, it was everybody.
"It was nothing that anybody should be blowing out of proportion. It happens every single day. Teams go through emotions, things happen. It's a competitive sport so everybody's not always going to come in and be happy every day."
Oklahoma City beat Memphis in seven games in the second round of the playoffs last year.
Brooks said because the Thunder rank as "relevant" team in the NBA, incidents such as Wednesday's will get full-blown, if not unwarranted, media attention. Still, the Westbrook-Durant dynamic remains a storyline because of issues, real or perceived, between the two from past seasons.
"To me, that happens. It really happens," Brooks said. "I'm not trying to make light of the situation. We were all frustrated. He (Westbrook) wasn't playing well and I said many times the great ones have bad games, average ones very rarely have great games.
"Four years ago we had the same disputes and all we were trying to do is get above nine wins so we wouldn't break the (worst) record. But now we have a good team and our guys are competitive. I don't fault that. I like that our guys are competitive."
Westbrook, who was 0-of-13 from the floor Wednesday night but hit two big free throws down the stretch, said one of his goals this season was to temper his emotions. He said he knows the spotlight is on him and his actions.
"I could definitely do better and it's early in the year, we're winning, so everything is good," Westbrook said. "Now everything we do is magnified and you got to be careful what goes on in huddles, timeouts, whatever it may be. You just got to be aware of what's going on."
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.