Friday night’s game between the Thunder and the Lakers wasn’t close, but Serge ibaka and Metta World Peace appeared to try to make up for that by getting tangled up in the closing minutes.
With under three minutes to play and Oklahoma City leading by 10, Ibaka and MWP were fighting for position on a free throw attempt from Jodie Meeks.
The shot went in, which makes this all the more ridiculous. But after the two got tangled up, neither wanted to be the one to break the hold first, so words were exchanged, and double technicals were handed out by the officials.
World Peace has the reputation, obviously, and has the bad blood with the Thunder franchise after dropping James Harden with a vicious elbow just last season.
But Ibaka has been known to throw a death grip of his own, so let’s just chalk this one up to two so-called tough guys not wanting to back down from a non-existent confrontation.
Where this gets interesting, of course, is in the event that the Lakers get their act together before the postseason, and end up in a seven-game series against the Thunder. Incidents like this will be filed away by both teams if that happens, and the end result could be a true rivalry that would be amazing to see play out.
Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star break.
Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.
The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.