Westbrook initially remained calm and walked away from the situation. But a timeout was called, giving Westbrook and Beverley time to stew and exchange words.
Tensions escalate during timeout
The two jawed at each other, and officials rang both players up for technical fouls. During the stoppage in play, officials reviewed the initial foul and ended up calling Beverley for a flagrant foul to the dismay of him and Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.
Rivers defended Beverley after the game.
“I didn’t think it was a dirty play at all, actually,” Rivers said. … “He dove and got to the ball first. I don’t know how that was a flagrant. They have bad blood. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as they keep it clean.”
While things were being sorted out, police stepped on the court, presumably to keep the peace as tensions mounted.
There’s history between Beverley and Westbrook that certainly came into play on Tuesday. Westbrook suffered a torn meniscus in 2013 that came courtesy of Beverley making a similar hard move on a steal attempt that resulted in a collision with Westbrook’s right knee.
The two were going at each other well before the fourth-quarter dustup. Westbrook taunted Beverley early in the game, giving him a “rock-the-baby” gesture after scoring on him.
All of that happened before the hard foul in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, Westbrook didn’t appear to suffer an injury on the play.
He hit both free throws from the flagrant foul and remained in the game for Oklahoma City’s 128-10 victory.
Beverley has a reputation as a grinder and a hard player who hustles to maintain his value in the NBA. As with most players with similar reputations, sometimes that hard play ventures into the realm of dirty.
While it’s a stretch to believe Beverley was intentionally making a move at Westbrook’s knees on either play, it’s also easy to conclude he didn’t make an effort to avoid them either.
Westbrook was in good spirits after the game and took time to knock Beverley and explain his “rock-the-baby” gesture.
“You got little kids. You gotta give it to little babies, put ’em top sleep,” Westbrook said. “You got little kids on you. It’s what happens. Little guards. You’ve gotta rock ’em.”