Russell Westbrook labored through maybe the worst game of his career Wednesday night in Memphis going 0-13 from the floor for just four points. But maybe there was a reason for it.
According to the Oklahoman, Westbrook had a second quarter confrontation with Kevin Durant that led to the two having to be separated on the bench.
Westbrook's frustration appeared to have started with just 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the second quarter when he drove into the paint and kicked the ball out to Thabo Sefolosha in the corner. Sefolosha passed up a wide open 3-pointer, which prompted Westbrook to yell at Sefolosha “shoot the (expletive) ball.”Throughout the rest of the game Durant and Westbrook appeared to communicate well after the dust-up, giving high-fives and with Durant patting Westbrook on the head.
Sefolosha and other teammates, including Durant and center Kendrick Perkins attempted to calm Westbrook down immediately during an ensuing trip to the free throw line. But the emotions spilled over to the bench one minute later.
Durant appeared to again settle Westbrook, but Westbrook appeared to take exception to how Durant delivered his message. The two began shouting at each other and had to be separated.
“We’re going to disagree sometimes, like I’ve always been saying,” Durant said after the game. “But I’m behind him 110 percent, and he’s the same way with me. And you seen when we came on the floor we clicked and everything started to work from there.”
Westbrook didn't speak to reporters following the game, but before you get too excited about that, realize that it's routine for Westbrook to skip out of the locker room quickly. Even after really good games.
Durant has tried to dispel every story and rumor about an issue between him and Westbrook saying that the 23-year-old point guard is "the only point guard for him" and different things like that. Durant has maintained quite often that Westbrook and him have disagreed quite a bit at times but that's just the nature of being teammates.
Westbrook is a very emotional player that has admitted that's an area he wants to improve in. He reacts, yells and gets very frustrated at times. It's just who he is as a player. It's what makes him great, and sometimes not so great. And Durant, as the leader of the Thunder, has to take it upon himself to calm Westbrook down, which sometimes results in a reaction. Which is what happened Wednesday.
Following the game, NBA TV spoke with Durant who reinforced his good relationship with Westbrook.
"Russell makes me so much better," Durant said. "A lot of people may say this and that about our relationship, but we always try to get better, we're always the first two guys in the gym, we always bounce ideas off each other too."
There's a hotter and brighter spotlight on the two though because of the mumblings that originated in the playoffs last season. Every time something like this happens, people will use it as a lightning rod to illustrate how the two are the next Kobe and Shaq. It's not really true at all, but it makes for a great story.
Look, I've been in Oklahoma City's locker room a lot. I've watched practices. These guys get along really well, but they're all competitive and they get mad or frustrated sometimes with each other. It happens. You probably have gotten mad at your buddy playing pickup on a Saturday morning. You just didn't have a fanbases and media ready to pounce on it to drum up some juicy, divisive story.
But the facts are that Westbrook and Durant got into it Wednesday at Memphis. Definitely wasn't the first time and probably won't be the last.