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Westbrook, Sefalosha turn up heat in Thunder's win

The SportsXchange

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The last time Memphis visited Oklahoma City, most of the drama took place between the opposing teams.

But Thursday night, with the Grizzlies back in town, it was the Thunder who provided all the fireworks on and off the court.

Oklahoma City (35-11) rolled to a 106-89 victory and improved to 20-3 at home. But it was an on-the-court eruption between Thunder guards Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha that became the topic of discussion after the game.

"It wasn't nothing that hasn't happened before with all of our guys," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "It was nothing for us. We are an emotional group. Our guys are always playing with a competitive spirit. That's what makes us a very good team for the last three or four years."

After the game, Westbrook wasn't in the mood to rehash what happened on the court or his reaction to the benching, which included him flipping his chair over and storming into the tunnel leading to the locker room.

"Nothing got me upset," Westbrook said. "Just miscommunication. I control my temper like a man, like I did."

Memphis, playing in its first game since trading Rudy Gay to Toronto, seemed to still be in shock without having their former leading scorer on the team. It wasn't until the second half that they began to play somewhat like their old selves, cutting a 26-point deficit to 11 in the fourth quarter.

But that was as close as Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin would let the Grizz (29-16) get. They combined to score 10 points in the fourth quarter to push the lead back to 20 before both teams cleared their benches.

Durant led all scorers with 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the field to go with seven rebounds and six assists. Westbrook added 21 points and nine rebounds, and Martin and Nick Collison came off the bench to score 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Jerryd Bayless, who replaced Gay in the starting lineup, paced Memphis with 23 points. Mike Conley chipped in with 17 points. Zach Randolph had a poor shooting performance (4 of 17) but grabbed 19 rebounds.

"I thought we played hard for the most part," Memphis guard Tony Allen said. "But we just didn't haven o answer for them. We showed signs of weathering the storm. But they reigned on us. You have to take your hat off to them. They played good. Next time we meet, they will be at our house."

The shooting woes that plagued the Thunder in their loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday evaporated in the first quarter against Memphis. They shot 80 percent from the field despite eight turnovers.

"I think our fans did a good job of staying with us," Westbrook said. "Everybody came ready to play."

With Randolph and Marc Gasol getting off to slow starts, Memphis stayed within striking distance behind Bayless. He erupted for 12 points in the first quarter as the Grizz trailed by 10.

However, the Thunder got their transition game rolling second quarter and pushed their lead to 24. Westbrook, who had been in a horrible shooting slump, was 7 of 10 in the first half as Oklahoma City led 58-34.

"The first half we were a little flat," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "Everybody was trying to do too much. You had guys who just didn't make any shots in the first half, but the second half we played our game."

In the thir quarterd, it began to fall apart for Oklahoma City. After Westbrook and Sefolosha got into a heated argument on the floor, Brooks benched Westbrook with the Thunder up by 21 points.

"Well, there was a obviously discussion on the court," Brooks said. "On one of the offensive plays, we had some trouble with our spacing. Thabo cut over when he probably should have spotted up. There was a timeout and I decided to take Russell out because he needed to calm down. Russell went into the back. It was nothing, he just had to regroup."

NOTES: Memphis entered its game with Oklahoma City a day after taking part in a blockbuster six-player trade. The Grizzlies acquired forward Ed Davis and guard Jose Calderon from Toronto and sent Gay and backup center Hamed Haddadi to the Raptors. Memphis then sent Calderon to Detroit for Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince. "It's the business of basketball," Hollins said. "I understand that perfectly well. The players understand it. When you have champagne taste, you can't be on a beer budget. We are in a small market. I understand the economics of being in a small market." ... With the trade not taking place until late Wednesday evening, Day, Davis and Prince were in Memphis waiting on physicals to be approved. Hollins expects them to be available Friday. ... Thursday marked the first time that Brooks has coached a game at home since the death of his mother, Lee Brooks, on Jan. 20. ... When the Thunder left for its six-game road trip, Durant was third in NBA in scoring with a 28.7 average. He returned leading the league at 29.6.
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