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Russell Westbrook And Jusuf Nurkic Have Expanded And Escalated Their Animosity

Illustration for article titled Russell Westbrook And Jusuf Nurkic Have Expanded And Escalated Their Animosity
Photo: Craig Mitchelldyer (AP)

The Thunder won a highly entertaining overtime game over the Blazers in Portland last night, 129-121, with Damian Lillard going for 51 points and Russell Westbrook enjoying a rare efficient long-range shooting night on his way to 37 points of his own. Oklahoma City has now won all four of their regular season matchups with Portland, and last night’s finale featured a fittingly testy denouement to a season series that has become chippier with each successive Thunder win.

The hostilities resumed in the second quarter, when Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic ran too close to Westbrook and appeared to trip him. Westbrook popped up and body-checked Nurkic to the ground, kicking off a scuffle that resulted in a flagrant foul for Westbrook and a technical for Nurkic. I suppose some sort of conflict between the two was inevitable, since they’re both irrepressible beefers and they hate each other.


In the final 30 seconds of regulation, Paul George nailed Nurkic in the chops with an unnecessarily high elbow on a drive, though no foul was called. Terrance Ferguson then put back George’s miss to give the Thunder a two-point lead with 13 seconds left.

The Blazers had to call two timeouts back-to-back to get everything settled, at which point Nurkic got into it with George on the very next play after tussling for a rebound. Nurkic lightly headbutted George, and both players were assessed technicals. As that was his second of the game, Nurkic was ejected.


Without Nurkic, the Blazers wilted in overtime as poor Enes Kanter was mercilessly targeted. Nurkic said after the game that he didn’t mean to trip Westbrook, but he took the blame for losing his cool and getting ejected. For his part, Westbrook was booed all night by Portland fans, which he welcomes. “It doesn’t matter to me. It doesn’t change anything. But I would boo me too, if I were the other team,” he said. Truly, he seems to love it.


I would not say no to a Blazers-Thunder playoff series.

Staff writer, Deadspin

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