The Warriors/Thunder game in Oklahoma City on Monday night wasn’t much of a game at all. Golden State knocked off OKC 111-95 behind 34 points from Klay Thompson and 23 points from Steph Curry to complete a season sweep of Russell Westbrook & Co. And the intensity inside of Chesapeake Energy Arena wasn’t nearly what it was in early February when Kevin Durant made his first return back to OKC since leaving the Thunder last summer to sign with the Warriors. KD didn’t play this time around due to the knee injury he suffered recently, so Thunder fans weren’t as excited to see Golden State come to town.
But there was one brief moment late in the second quarter that proved that these two teams still don’t like each other very much. With just 5 seconds remaining on the clock before the halftime, a jump ball was called and players from both teams lined up for it. As they did, Curry and Thunder guard Semaj Christon started jockeying for position and got a little bit too physical with one another. Westbrook saw what was happening and stepped in to stick up for his teammate. And that led to a bunch of pushing and shoving between the two teams, which prompted the game's referees to hand out technical fouls to Curry, Christon, Westbrook, and Draymond Green.
After the game, those who were in the middle of the action were asked about it, and they talked about why the tension between the teams was so high at that particular point in the game. Westbrook said that he was simply trying to protect his teammate.
"Protecting my teammates, that’s what’s going through my mind," he said. "I think Curry tried to get into it with Semaj, tried to push him, and I stepped right in between. That’s it. Once I see something going down with my teammates, I’m hopping in."
Curry saw things a little bit differently. While speaking with reporters, he suggested that Christon was the instigator and that he pushed him a couple times before he responded by pushing back. But he also downplayed the scuffle itself and said it wasn’t a big deal.
"Your normal jump ball kind of fight for position situation," he said. "I was just trying to get in between Russ and—how do you pronounce his last name? Trying to get in between them two. I felt him push me. I kind of let that first one go. Then, I kept going, and there was another little push. And at that point, I just wanted to kind of hold my position. Much ado about nothing after that."
Green also spoke on the scuffle and laughed when he was asked about getting a technical on the play. Even though he wasn’t directly involved in the shenanigans that started the shoving match, he ended up getting hit with a tech anyway, which didn't surprise him.
"I’m happy you think the same thing I think," Green said when a reporter asked him about picking up a T on the play. "Jesus Christ. I don’t know. Nothing surprises me at this point when it comes to anything like that. I actually knew it was going to happen, to be honest with you. I didn’t do anything, but I knew it. If I’m anywhere in the area, it’s expected."
The Warriors and Thunder won’t play again during the regular season. But there’s a chance they could meet in the playoffs. And if they do? Expect the intensity in that series to be through the roof. It might not be all that competitive—Golden State seems to have OKC’s number this season—but it will be fun to watch.