Mavericks-Thunder was never going to be close, not with Dallas resting all five starters after an overtime game the night before. And it wasn’t—OKC jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter, extended it to 23 by halftime, and cruised to a 108-89 win. But not being competitive didn’t mean it wasn’t feisty; Russell Westbrook and Charlie Villanueva were ejected in separate incidents, and six technicals were handed out in a span of less than four minutes.
It was J.J. Barea who thoroughly got under Westbrook’s skin, and you wonder if that wasn’t his intention. The Mavs weren’t going to win this game with the starting lineups as-is, so getting Westbrook out of the game, or at least, getting him in foul trouble, was as good a strategy as any.
With about five minutes left in the second quarter, Barea and Westbrook got tangled up in the paint. Limbs were flailed, shoves were shoved, Enes Kanter held back two guys at once, and Charlie Villanueva got his hand around Westbrook’s throat.
After a seven-minute video review, Villanueva was ejected, and technicals were given to Barea, Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka.
“Nothing extra, regular foul and then he threw his arms and went crazy after that,” Barea said of Westbrook. “I was there. I wasn’t backing down. He started pushing, I started grabbing.”
Just a few minutes later, Barea and Westbrook got on each other again. Westbrook picked up his second tech on this, and that call is soft as hell:
Westbrook wasn’t going to get into his confrontations after the game. In his media session, he answered each question about Barea with platitudes about how well the Thunder played as a team.
Barea, who was heartily booed the rest of the evening, said “I know deep down that they like me here in Oklahoma.”