Whether or not the Golden State Warriors are actually “furious” that the Oklahoma City Thunder showed insufficient respect for Kevin Durant during his first return trip to Chesapeake Energy Arena last month, it’s clear that there’s still very little love lost between these two teams. That stands to reason: they contested a hard-fought, seven-game Western Conference Finals last year, stood as victor and vanquished in the biggest free-agent acquisition of the summer, and had lined up for three of the most emotionally fraught (if ultimately one-sided) games of the 2016-17 regular-season campaign.
That bad blood boiled over late in the second quarter of the Warriors’ nationally televised Monday night visit to Oklahoma City, bubbling up as the two teams prepared to vie for a jump ball:
With 5.3 seconds remaining, Warriors superstar Stephen Curry and Thunder reserve Semaj Christon were jockeying for position ahead of the referee’s toss of the jump ball. That jockeying turned into jousting, as the two players slapped at one another before pushing and shoving. Westbrook — who recently responded to Curry’s pick of James Harden as this year’s NBA Most Valuable Player by asking, “Who’s he?” — quickly got involved, stepping between Curry and Christon before turning to go nose-to-nose with Steph. That drew the ire of Warriors big man Draymond Green, who made a beeline for Russ to make sure that his MVP point guard didn’t wind up bearing the brunt of any altercation.
From there, everybody in white and blue uniforms formed one giant cluster of limbs, few of which were likely particularly interested in throwing down …
When ten guys simultaneously do the "hold me back"
— Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) March 21, 2017
… before the refs got everybody separated and sent back to their respective corners, before heading to the video monitor to mete out punishment. The final tally: technicals for Curry, Christon, Green and Westbrook. If they’re not rescinded, that last one could wind up being a pretty big deal:
That's Westbrook's 15th technical this season. One away from a suspension.
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) March 21, 2017
After everyone had cooled down, the two teams resumed play. Well, the Warriors did, anyway:
Who is he??? Nothing like a lil friendly reminder. Steph just happened to Russ and Thunder people.
— Kelenna Azubuike (@KAzubuike7) March 21, 2017
That last shot from Steph was a 25-foot middle finger
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) March 21, 2017
Hey, Thunder? Might want to make sure you keep tabs on No. 30 in blue. He can shoot it a little bit.
Curry’s buzzer-beating triple — and subsequent race to the locker room — gave Golden State a 20-point lead at intermission. The Warriors wouldn’t relinquish it, taking it to Oklahoma City in the third quarter and leading by as many as 27 before calling off the dogs en route to a 111-95 win, their fourth convincing victory of the season over the Thunder, this one coming without injured superstar Kevin Durant.
Klay Thompson led all scorers with 34 points on 12-for-21 shooting, including a 7-for-15 mark from 3-point land, to go with six rebounds, two assists and two steals for the Warriors, who improved their league-leading record to 56-14 and now hold a 2 1/2-game edge over the San Antonio Spurs for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoff chase. Curry finished with 23 points (8-for-17 from the field, 7-for-12 from deep), six assists and four rebounds in just under 30 minutes; he didn’t set foot on the court in the fourth quarter, having done his damage in three to help Golden State sweep its season series with the Thunder by a total of 79 points.
Victor Oladipo scored 17 points to lead five Thunder players in double figures. Westbrook finished one of his quieter outings of a remarkable season with just 15 points on 4-for-16 shooting, eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals in 27 minutes. He, too, sat out the fourth for OKC, who fell to 40-30, tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for the sixth-best record in the West and one game behind the fifth-place Los Angeles Clippers.
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