Russell Westbrook seemingly spent the Oklahoma City Thunder’s entire victory on Tuesday night talking trash to any Portland Trail Blazers player who would listen. Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic bore the brunt of his berating, and all involved poured salt on the beef afterwards. It was delicious.
Russell Westbrook vs. Jusuf Nurkic
Let’s start with Nurkic, since that one cut deepest. We can trace their animus to an early third-quarter sequence, when Nurkic blocked Westbrook, and they engaged in a weird laugh-off with each other:
This shot did not spark joy. ✋ pic.twitter.com/AnWGWpQNtR
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) January 23, 2019
Westbrook got the last laugh when he Euro-stepped the Bosnian Beast during a 5-0 run later in the same frame that built enough of a cushion to prevent the Blazers from ever really threatening again. Portland called a timeout as a result, which gave the Thunder star some extra time to talk the talk:
Russell Westbrook having a chat with Jusuf Nurkic 😬 pic.twitter.com/L12hqcqMeu
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) January 23, 2019
When asked about the difficulty of fighting through Nurkic’s screens all night, Westbrook “next question”-ed the reporter before dropping, “I ain’t talking about this clown,” under his breath:
— Jacob Tobey (@JacobRTobey) January 23, 2019
That led Nurkic to call Westbrook “Westbrick” on Twitter hours later, which would be a decent nickname for the former MVP who has struggled all season to find his shooting stroke, if only it hadn’t come on a night Westbrook dropped a 29-10-14 triple-double on 9-of-20 shooting in victory.
Russell Westbrook vs. Damian Lillard
It’s less difficult to trace Westbrook’s beef with Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, but regardless of its roots, the former had no love for the latter when Lillard took to the free throw line with the game in OKC’s hand. Westbrook appeared to tell Lillard, “I’ve been busting that ass for years. For years.”
Westbrook telling Dame he’s been busting that ass for years. Rematch is February 11th. pic.twitter.com/0cFnamzxu2
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 23, 2019
The Athletic’s Jason Quick did well to source the exchange with Lillard afterward. According to the Blazers star, Westbrook also told him, “Shoot your free throws, the game is over anyways,” to which Lillard replied, “Ain’t s— over when I’m out here. We are going to see.” Lillard said he told Westbrook, “You know what time it is,” a reference to his “Lillard Time” routine, which took off during a 40-point effort against the Thunder in 2014. Westbrook reportedly responded, “I don’t know no time.”
“Walking down the court he was like, ‘You know this is how we do (it),”’ Lillard told Quick. “I respect you, you respect me. That’s all it was. I mean, he know. He know. He knows I’m not one of those people that … (there) ain’t no fear. I’m going to come at you the same way you come at me. And he know that. Where he come from (Los Angeles) and where I come from (Oakland), that’s regular.”
For the record, Lillard’s free throws cut the Thunder lead to 121-112 with 1:20 to play, but a Westbrook dunk less than a minute later ensured the Blazers would get no closer. Lillard finished with 34 points, eight assists, five rebounds and five steals, and didn’t seem to bent out of shape about it afterwards.
“I see him and I see how he is almost angry toward other people,” Lillard told Quick. “So I take that same energy with him. I don’t speak to him before the game. I don’t shake hands. I don’t do none of that. I’m like, ‘It is going to be what it is going to be.’ That’s my approach.”
“We ain’t best friends, but I respect him and he respects me.”
Lillard later described their meeting as “Warfare” on Instagram. The two teams meet again Feb. 11.
A post shared by Damian Lillard (@damianlillard) on Jan 22, 2019 at 8:36pm PST
All Westbrook had to say about it was, “I like to compete. He likes to compete. That’s it.” Per Quick, the two All-Stars shared breakfast before a USA Basketball meeting in Las Vegas this past summer, suggesting that their beef is contained to the court. That same respect may not convey to Evan Turner.
Russell Westbrook vs. Evan Turner
Turner dropped Westbrook’s signature “rock the baby” celebration after posting up the Thunder guard and scoring early in the second quarter. Asked about that after a night in which Turner scored four points, Westbrook told reporters, “I didn’t even see it, honestly. He can rock it right back to Portland.”
"He can rock it right back to Portland.”
Russell Westbrook on Evan Turner doing his "rock the baby" celebration.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 23, 2019
The night, fittingly, ended with a laugh. Good times.
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