Russell Westbrook can be a spicy guy, and Jusuf Nurkic is known to ruffle the feathers of his contemporaries. Still, as the Portland Trail Blazers took on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night, it was apparent the referees didn’t exactly have control of things at Moda Center.
It started off with a play between Nurkic and Westbrook in the second quarter. After a made bucket, Nurkic entered the floor and got his feet inadvertently tangled up with Westbrook.
Westbrook didn’t like that very much, and as the two neared midcourt the former MVP threw a forearm at Nurkic, sending him to the floor.
Based on the spirit of the foul — the fact that it was not part of any kind of basketball play and was away from the action — Westbrook could have easily been given a Flagrant 2.
Instead, Westbrook was given a Flagrant 1 and Nurkic was given a technical foul, which was more disadvantageous to the Blazers.
Then with the game tied and just seconds left, Paul George drove through the lane to try and win the game. The Thunder star’s elbow caught Nurkic square in the face. No offensive foul was called on George despite his elbow coming high and away from his body, and Oklahoma City scooped up the rebound for the score.
Then came the call of the game with just four seconds left. Battling down low, Nurkic was fouled on a putback attempt with Portland down just two points. The Blazers big man, a 77 percent free-throw shooter, then went face-to-face with George. Nurkic wound up giving George a mini-headbutt, garnering him a second technical and an ejection.
As per NBA rules, the Thunder were allowed to pick a free-throw shooter. OKC selected Skal Labissiere — who had yet to even attempt a field goal in a Blazers uniform — and who wound up missing his first free throw. He had to miss the second on purpose in order for Portland to get a chance to win or move to OT.
Somehow, that’s still not where the craziness of this game ended.
On Labissiere’s second free throw, the Thunder were called for a foul on Al-Farouq Aminu, who subsequently forced OT by sinking two from the charity stripe.
OKC was able to pull away in the extra period, finally pulling out the win, 129-121.
Meanwhile, I bet we’ll have a lot to see from the L2M on this game tomorrow. It might even be as long as this post.