Russell Westbrook said his scuffle with Stephen Curry during the Thunder’s loss to the Golden State Warriors was about protecting his teammates.
Emotions have run high between the two teams since Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Thunder for the Warriors in the offseason.
The injured Durant was courtside for Monday’s contest at Chesapeake Energy Arena, where the Warriors eased to a 111-95 victory, Curry and Klay Thompson combining for 57 points.
With seconds remaining in the second quarter, Curry reacted angrily after being pushed by Semaj Christon as they jostled for position at a jump ball.
Westbrook stepped in, leading to a shoving match between the two star point guards, with the Thunder’s Taj Gibson and the Warriors’ Draymond Green caught up in the subsequent scrum.
Double technical fouls were handed out to Curry and Christon and Green and Westbrook.
“That right there is a tone-setter.” – @ripcityhamilton
— Players Only on TNT (@NBAonTNT) March 21, 2017
“I was just trying to get in between Russ and (Christon),” Curry told reporters. “And I felt him push me. I kind of let that first one go, then as I kept going there was another little push. And at that point, I just wanted to hold my position.”
Westbrook’s view of the situation was predictably different.
“Protecting my teammates, that’s what’s going through my mind,” Westbrook said. “I think Curry tried to get into it with Semaj, tried to push him, and I stepped right in between.
“That’s it. Once I see something going down with my teammates, I’m hopping in.”
Curry had the final say before halftime, though, collecting Thompson’s pass from the jump ball and nailing a 3-pointer before the buzzer and then sprinting down the tunnel.
“That was dope,” Green said of Curry’s buzzer-beater. “A heads-up play by Klay, to get the pass out to Steph, and a great shot.”
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) March 21, 2017