Warriors, Thunder get frisky in Durant's return

Warriors, Thunder get frisky in Durant's return

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Though no blows were thrown and no serious threats were issued, there were moments during the Warriors-Thunder game Saturday night that gave off a strong odor of ferocity.

“I loved it,” said Warriors forward Draymond Green.

The animosity ran deep enough that local law enforcement felt compelled step in, initially to keep the teams apart and later to wall off a particularly vociferous fan near the Warriors bench.

Oklahoma City fans were doing their best to pour their animosity into the head of former object of affection Kevin Durant. Moreover, his ex-teammates from the Thunder turned particularly cranky.

Game officials at one point late in the third quarter called three technical fouls and reviewed a play to see if OKC forward Andre Roberson had committed a flagrant foul when he clobbered Durant on a drive to the basket.

Durant and Roberson went nose to nose, exchanging words. Both received technical fouls from official Eric Dalen, as did Andre Iguodala for saying too much to veteran official Bennie Adams.

It’s all in the game,” Durant said. “Nothing that’s going to seep off the floor. It’s part of the game. I respect that. We should have just kept playing; I don’t think they should’ve reviewed anything.

“It’s a part of it. Hard fouls, s----talking . . . all that stuff is a part of the game. That’s what makes the game fun for us.”

The officials decided Roberson’s transgression was a common foul, and matters seemed to cool shortly afterward.

Roberson after the game acknowledged a measure of dispute with Durant, saying “the decision he made kind of doesn’t sit right with me.”

That would be Durant’s decision, upon becoming a free agent last summer, to flee Oklahoma City and join the Warriors. That decision is what kept the temperature in the arena between hot and hotter.

There also was a heated exchange earlier in the third quarter between Russell Westbrook and Durant, who were twin touchstones for eight seasons in Oklahoma City until Durant departed.

OKC, behind Westbrook had sliced eight points off what had been a 26-point Warriors lead when the Warriors called a 20-second timeout and Westbrook turned toward Durant and said, “I’m coming.”

Durant went right back at him. The two continued their dialogue, with Durant getting in the last words: “You’re losing.”

The Warriors at the time were up 94-76, with 4:27 left in the third.

“No harm, no foul,” Green said of the Durant-Westbrook chat. “You talk trash on the court. It’s a competitive game. KD is super-competitive. Russell is super-competitive. If you talk junk, you talk junk. I think it’s fun. I enjoyed it.”

Report: Rockets among teams interested in Jimmy Butler

Report: Rockets among teams interested in Jimmy Butler

Could Jimmy Butler go home to Houston?

Apparently, the Rockets are interested in trying to make it happen, though we're not sure how the numbers would work out.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets, Nets, Pistons, Clippers, Heat, 76ers and Blazers are "interested in talking further with Minnesota" about trying to acquire the four-time All-Star. The Cavs are also interested acquiring Butler, according to Woj.

Houston has a problem, though. They are already $11.444 million over the luxury cap threshold. Butler is set to make $20.445 million in 2018-19 and $19.841 million in 2019-20, so the Rockets would have to do salary cap gymnastics to make a deal work.

On Friday, GM Daryl Morey told The Houston Chronicle that the Rockets are "doing what we can to prepare for" the Warriors.

Acquiring Butler would certainly fit that messaging.

Daryl Morey admits Rockets make most decisions with Warriors in mind


Daryl Morey admits Rockets make most decisions with Warriors in mind

Grass is green, the sky is blue, and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is still obsessed with knocking off the Warriors.

Morey admitted as much in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, telling the paper that "a very high percentage" of the Rockets' decisions this offseason are made with one thing on their mind:

Same as last year, it's very likely to win the title we're going to have to beat the Warriors at some point. We're doing what we can to prepare for them. To me, that's what any rational person would do. I'm intrigued by some thinking it's odd that we say that. Maybe because it's not a norm. Ask any fan, 'Who do you have to beat to win the title?' They're going to say 'the Warriors.' It seems like [general manager] speak or coachspeak to not say that.

Morey told anybody who would ask last season that the Rockets were single-mindedly obsessed with beating the Warriors in the playoffs. Houston came close last season, jumping out to a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals, before Golden State stormed back to win the final two games in Rockets star Chris Paul's injury absence.

Morey responded with a substantial makeover of his roster. Defensive stoppers Luc Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza are gone, while Carmelo Anthony, Michael Carter-Williams, Marquese Chriss, James Ennis and Brandon Knight are in. The Rockets were one of the West's best defensive teams last season, and Morey expects the team to withstand the loss of Ariza and Mbah a Moute.

"We can be [as strong defensively]," Morey told the Chronicle. "They were both extremely good defenders. So it will be a challenge. That was a big part of our meeting. [Assistant coach Roy Rogers] was walking through what changes and how excited he was with what he was planning to do and the personnel we have to be better than last year."

Morey -- as well as the Warriors -- will get a first look at whether or not Houston's offseason was successful on Nov. 17, when the Rockets host the defending NBA champions.