Things could get bloody if Warriors, Thunder meet in playoffs

Things could get bloody if Warriors, Thunder meet in playoffs

OAKLAND -- The decline of the Lob City Clippers created a rivalry vacuum for the Warriors that the Oklahoma City Thunder seems determined to fill.

It’s an organic growth and not necessarily an extension of the since-thawed frost that existed between ex-OKC teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

The signals of an altogether new and growing animosity were clearly visible Saturday at Oracle Arena.

They were on the court, where the teams split four technical fouls and two mini-beefs surfaced. They were in the locker rooms, where the Thunder made sharp accusations about dirty play as the Warriors defended a 112-80 rout of the team that took their lunches twice earlier this season.

“We just didn’t want to lose,” Durant said. “We know we can get beat by this team, obviously, if we don’t come and play with force. We did that on both ends of the court.”

There was, to be sure, a playoff-level atmosphere, with tensions and tempers running high. Carmelo Anthony and Durant confronted each other in the second quarter, and Draymond Green and Anthony got testy with each other in the third.

Asked what occurred with Green, Anthony took the neighborhood high ground: “Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.”

While Nick Young (16 points in 18 minutes) and Durant (28 in 32) were scorching the nets, bodies of both teams were thudding to the floor multiple times and big men JaVale McGee and Steven Adams were wrestling in the paint.

But if any single incident is at the heart of burgeoning conflict, it was that between Russell Westbrook and Pachulia late in the third quarter. Westbrook tumbled over Young, with Pachulia then tumbling onto Westbrook in the area of his knees.

Westbrook, who came up limping, took exception, as did his teammate, Paul George. Even Celtics star Kyrie Irving, via Instagram, expressed his disapproval of what he saw as an unforced fall with harmful intentions by Pachulia.

Here is Westbrook’s response when asked what happened: “Did you see it? What did it look like? What did it look like? Did anybody touch him? Yes or no? Obviously, it was intentional. So don’t ask me was it intentional. Nobody touched him and he fell over my leg, tried to hurt me.”

Westbrook believes that particularly incident will be reviewed by members of the NBA disciplinary crew.

“You know Zaza,” George said. “You know his history. And you know nobody pushed him. He aimed where he was going to fall. That’s Zaza making a Zaza play. He’s on the end of hurting a lot of guys.”

Pachulia-Westbrook has history, with the big man block-shoving Westbrook to the floor last season. Pachulia was assessed a Flagrant 1 for that transgression.

No foul was called this time, but this incident adds to the popular belief that Pachulia is a more a hatchet man than a basketball player.

Though Pachulia, for his part, denied any ill intent, this is certain to add fuel to the antipathy between the teams. The Warriors came into the game on alert, hoping to get a measure of revenge against the team that trounced them by 17 in Oklahoma City last November and by 17 in Oakland 18 days ago.

The Warriors were in control most of the night, going up five after a quarter and seven at the half. Then with afterburners kicking in, the Warriors outscored OKC 60-35 in the second half while holding the Thunder to 32.5-percent shooting.

The Warriors are now 1-2 this season against a team that plays defense at a level that makes it a legitimate threat in the postseason. Green was unwilling to deny the significance of this particular regular-season game, conceding that it had the feel of a postseason battle.

“It did and that was the way we approached it,” he said. “We approached it like we needed to win this game. We came out with a defensive mindset. Then we executed.”

Green picked up his 15th technical foul, leaving him one away from a one-game suspension. You may recall -- Green surely does - that he was suspended from Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals after an altercation with Cavaliers star LeBron James.

That suspension came as another incident involving Green was fresh in the minds of everyone in the league’s New York office.

An incident involving the Thunder, with Green’s foot making contact with Adams’ groin area during the Western Conference Finals that the Warriors won in seven games.

There is a reasonable chance the teams will meet again in the postseason. If they do, there could be blood on the floor, and maybe a few teeth.

Westbrook, George rip Zaza over latest incident; Kyrie Irving chimes in

Westbrook, George rip Zaza over latest incident; Kyrie Irving chimes in

Yet again, Zaza Pachulia and Russell Westbrook got tangled up in a controversial play.

With just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter on Saturday night, Westbrook missed a driving layup. As he came down, he fell to the floor with Nick Young.

While Westbrook was on the ground, an untouched Pachulia fell on the Thunder guard's legs.

After the game, Westbrook got into a contentious back-and-forth with reporters regarding the incident with Pachulia.

Reporter: Do you think it was intentional?

Westbrook: Did you see it? What'd it look like? Did anybody touch him? Yes or no? Oh, you didn't see it? But why you asking me about something you didn't see? Well, then if you didn't see it, don't ask me a question. Don't ask me dumb questions. Obviously it was intentional. Nobody touched him, he fell over my leg, tried to hurt me, but hey, that's how it go.

Reporter: Do you think that's something the league needs to look into?

Westbrook: Hey man, they'll see it and take a look at it. They'll see it.

Reporter: You've had a couple run-ins with Zaza. Do you think he's a dirty player?

Westbrook: Yeah, for sure. For sure.

Westbrook's teammate Paul George had some choice words for Pachulia after the Warriors' 112-80 win.

"You know Zaza. You know his history. Nobody pushed him. He aimed where he was going to fall. That's Zaza making a Zaza play. He's on the end of hurting a lot of guys," George told reporters.

Thunder players weren't the only ones to call out Pachulia for his actions on Saturday night. Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving posted a comment on a video of the play on Instagram.

"The league has to take a look at this man, that s*** is ridiculous!!" Irving wrote.

Last season, Pachulia stood over Westbrook after fouling him during a game at Oracle Arena.

Warriors seek revenge against Thunder after two blow-out losses


Warriors seek revenge against Thunder after two blow-out losses

OAKLAND -- Never in the Steve Kerr era have the Warriors been swept in a season series. Their best chance to keep it that way comes Saturday.

That’s when the Warriors (45-14) face Oklahoma City, against whom they are 0-2, and neither game was close. Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4:30, with postgame coverage immediately after the final horn.

While integrating stars Carmelo Anthony and Paul George with reigning MVP Russell Westbrook, the Thunder (34-26) have had an uneven season, but managed to find their best in two double-digit wins over the Warriors.

The teams will meet once more this season, April 3 on OKC’s home court.


Warriors by 9.5


Stephen Curry vs. Russell Westbrook: They won’t always be assigned to each other, but no two point guards strike more fear into opponents than these two. The Warriors concede it’s too much to ask one individual to contain Westbrook, so they’ll often send help in an effort to keep him from being productive in the paint. The Thunder are well aware of the damage Curry can inflict. The winner of this battle gives his team an infinitely better chance to prevail.


Warriors: F Draymond Green (R shoulder soreness) is listed as probable. F Jordan Bell (L ankle inflammation) and G Pat McCaw (L wrist fracture) are listed as out.

Thunder: G/F Andre Roberson (L patellar tendon rupture) is listed as out.


Warriors: 6-4.

Thunder: 4-6.


Scott Foster (crew chief), Pat Fraher, Scott Wall


The Warriors have dropped the first two meetings, 108-91 on Nov. 22 in Oklahoma City and 125-105 on Feb. 6 in Oakland. The Warriors swept four games last season and are 14-6, including postseason, against OKC in the Steve Kerr era.


THE GIFTS: No team this season has punished the Warriors for their turnovers as harshly as OKC has. The Thunder scored 72 points off 47 Warriors giveaways in two games. If the Warriors don’t take care of the ball, they’re inviting more of the same.

THE GLASS: OKC C Steven Adams leads the NBA in offensive rebounds (5.3 per game), helping the Thunder ring up 35 second-chance points, to 21 for the Warriors in the first two games. The Warriors will have to be more aggressive in the paint.

KD VS. PG: A captivating matchup of two superb small forwards. Kevin Durant is the more gifted scorer, Paul George the more consistent defender. PG won earlier this month with 38 points, six steals and five rebounds to KD’s 33 points and 6 rebounds.