Considering all the recent history between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder, it shouldn’t be surprising that things got a little chippy during Monday’s game between the teams. Still, it was quite something to see Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook nearly come to blows.
The pair of superstars got into it as a minor skirmish broke out near the end of the first half. With both sides preparing for a jump ball, Curry and Oklahoma City guard Semaj Christon began jockeying for position, and when things got physical, Westbrook jumped in.
Warriors' Stephen Curry scraps with Thunder's Russell Westbrook (full video) pic.twitter.com/Xv38FaLvdN
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) March 21, 2017
Officials eventually handed technical fouls to Curry, Westbrook, Christon and Draymond Green. When play finally resumed, Curry very much had the last laugh, getting the ball with just enough time to bury a three-point shot, extending Golden State’s lead to 20 as he sprinted straight to the locker room for halftime.
The Warriors built a 26-point lead going into the fourth quarter before coasting to a 111-95 win in the teams’ second meeting this season at OKC’s Chesapeake Energy Arena. The first encounter was marked by a tense atmosphere; it was the return of Kevin Durant to the place where he spent his previous eight seasons before jilting the Thunder and joining rival Golden State in free agency.
Durant is nursing a knee injury suffered last month and did not play in Monday’s game. But some extra spice had been added by virtue of recent comments by Curry and Westbrook. The Warriors star and reigning two-time NBA MVP had said that he thought the Rockets’ James Harden would win this year’s MVP award, mostly because he had led Houston to a better record than the one OKC had.
When asked about Curry’s comments Thursday, Westbrook responded by saying, “I don’t care, it don’t matter what he say. Who’s he?”
Westbrook may have offered a determined nonchalance at that time, but he was off his game Monday, scoring just 15 points, his second-lowest total of the season, on 4-for-16 shooting, with a minus-25 in the box score. In addition, by picking up his 15th technical foul of the season, he needs just one more to receive an automatic one-game suspension, and he’ll get another suspension with every two techs after that.
Meanwhile, Curry continued his hot shooting, a very welcome development for the Warriors, particularly with Durant still out. Curry had been struggling from long range since late February, but he hit seven of 12 three-pointers Monday, this after a 6-for-8 performance from behind the arc in the Warriors’ previous game. He even had his first dunk of the season, which couldn’t have done wonders for the collective mood of Westbrook and his OKC teammates.