OKC Lost and Westbrook Was Ready To Fight Fans
28 Apr, 2018
The Oklahoma City Thunder saw their season come to a frustrating end Friday as the Utah Jazz eliminated them in six games with a controversial no-call on a Paul George 3-pointer and Russell Westbrook having an incident with a fan as he exited the court.
“I didn’t confront fans; fans confronted me,” Westbrook said. “Here in Utah, man, a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said to the players here with these fans. It’s truly disrespectful. Talk about your families, your kids. It’s truly disrespectful to the game, man.”
As Westbrook walked to the tunnel following the Thunder’s 96-91 loss, where he scored 46 points on 43 shots, he slapped at a fan’s cellphone. It was the second interaction Westbrook had with a courtside fan, with him turning and snapping at one who said something to him as he exited the floor at halftime.
“I think it’s something that needs to be brought up,” he continued. “I’m tired of just going out and playing, then the fans saying whatever the hell they want to say. I’m not with that. If I was on the street, they wouldn’t just come up to me and say anything crazy, because I don’t play that s—. So, to disrespect me and do whatever they want to do needs to be put to a stop, especially here in Utah.”
After pulling in five consecutive offensive rebounds on the final possession while they were down three points, the Thunder had a chance to tie the score with 15 seconds left as George pump-faked Rudy Gobert and appeared to create some contact on the shot.
“I think P’s 3 at the end should’ve been a foul call in my opinion, had him in the air,” Westbrook said. “But things like that happen.”
Thunder coach Billy Donovan tried to take the high road.
“I’m not going to get into what I saw, obviously, I’m sure the league will look at it,” he said. “Clearly ran forward, clearly banged into him. I feel bad for [Ron Garretson]. It was a hard-fought game; it was a physical game. I don’t want to say it ended our season because Paul could’ve gone up there and made one out of three, two out of three, who knows what would’ve happened. But I do know I would’ve liked to had Paul George at the free throw line shooting free throws.
“I think clearly that was one of those plays where most people looking at would say, ‘Geez that probably should’ve been whistled a foul.'”
Garretson, via a pool reporter, said he felt the no-call was correct.
“Rudy Gobert jumped to the right of Paul George,” Garretson said. “Our determination was Rudy would not have made contact with Paul had he not jumped sideways into Gobert’s legal space. We determined this to be a non-call.”
Gobert said the call could “have been both ways.”
“He jumped sideways. I got caught in the air, definitely. Sometimes they make this call, sometimes they don’t,” Gobert said. “I think throughout the series there have been calls that have gone either way. I mean, Game 5, me and [Derrick Favors] were both in foul trouble the whole game. No one talked about that. So I think it could have been both ways. I don’t think there’s one play that defines a series. You know, it’s a lot of games.”
It’s somewhat of a fitting end to the Thunder’s up-and-down season, with a number of their games ending controversially. It also slingshots them into a summer of unknowns, with George’s free agency at the center of it.
“It was an amazing season,” George said. “Really a learning experience. Playing off Russ and Melo [Carmelo Anthony]. Steve-o [Steven Adams]. Seeing what potential is like having [Andre Roberson] out there. It was a lot to be happy about. The fans, city, organization — everything has been unbelievable.”
George said “it’s too soon” to make any decision.
“I would love to remain a Thunder, but that’s what this summer is for. We’ll address that in the summer,” George said.
The season didn’t exactly go to plan, or expectations, for the Thunder, with 48 wins, the West’s 4-seed, and a first-round playoff exit. Asked if he was surprised the Thunder went out so early, George said “not necessarily.”
“I think talentwise and all of that, but it’s our first year playing together,” he said. “I understood that coming in. I thought we had a high ceiling to win it, high expectations to win it, but I think you got to really figure out the in-between stuff when you assimilate a team, and that can take some time to unravel how to become a championship team.”
After playing terrifically in the first five games of the series, George finished with more turnovers than points in Game 6, with five points on 2-of-16 shooting, while Westbrook attempted 43 shots, including 19 3-pointers.
“He’s unbelievable, amazing,” George said of Westbrook. “Just a stand-up guy. It’s no cliché, but people say he’s an unbelievable basketball player, and he’s an amazing person. That’s true, how you can describe Russ as a friend, as a brother. He’s one of the best teammates I’ve had, by far. Just learned a lot watching him from afar and being around him closely. He’s an unbelievable person.”
Image haydnbow twitter
Mentioned In This Post: