Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Zach Randolph

Kendrick Perkins, Zach Randolph have words near locker room after ejection


It wasn’t a fight. But it was close.

All through the Grizzlies win over the Thunder Wednesday, Zach Randolph and Kendrick Perkins were going at each other. It was physical, and there was plenty of trash talk.

With 2:05 left in the game, they lined up across each other across the free throw lane as Russell Westbrook shot and the verbal taunts didn’t end (with talk of fighting after the game near the team bus), and the referees had enough. Both were ejected from the game.

But that wasn’t the end of it, reports the Oklahoman.

After the two players were separated, Perkins ran off the court in front of the Thunder bench and into a hallway, where he had another altercation with Randolph outside the postgame interview room next to the Thunder locker room.

The players were separated by Oklahoma City police officers. People in the postgame interview area heard something being slammed against the door.

Perkins wouldn’t discuss it after the game. Zach Randolph downplayed it.

“It wasn’t nothin’. It was a good, tough, hard-fought game. It was competitive, just out there playing, two physical teams that want to win, a lot of emotions flying, so just part of basketball.”

Arena security decided not to take any further action following the incident in the hallway. We’ll see if the league office feels the same way.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.