Former teammates-turned-foes Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had some intense moments Wednesday during the Oklahoma City Thunder's 108-91 win over the Golden State Warriors, but they each downplayed the perceived hostility between them in the aftermath.
"Man, that's just ball," Durant said, per Royce Young of ESPN.com. "He's a competitor, I'm a competitor. We like to go at it, both of us, and that's just part of the game, so I respect it. I've got nothing but love for it. I'm expecting it again when we play 'em again, but it's all fun and games."
It may be "just ball," but they were each given a technical foul when they talked trash and went head-to-head in the third quarter.
"I play the same way every night," Westbrook said. "Whether it's against Kevin, whether it's against ... who we play Friday? Detroit. Reggie Jackson. Dennis Smith on Saturday. It don't matter who it is. On the court, I don't got no friends. Only friend I have is the basketball, that's it. And obviously my teammates. But I go out and compete, I go out and play at a high level. Like I've been saying since day one, and that's what I do."
According to Young, Durant and Westbrook still haven't spoken to each other outside the basketball court since the former left to join the Warriors. However, they did plenty of talking Wednesday—including in the second quarter when Westbrook stepped to the free-throw line:
It was an emotional showdown for the Thunder, who beat the Warriors for the first time in eight tries since Durant signed with the defending champions.
For his part, Durant wanted to keep the focus on the game and not the back-and-forths. Chris B. Haynes of ESPN shared more of his comments in the aftermath:
Durant wasn't the only one who wanted more attention on the actual game. His mother, Wanda Durant, expressed similar sentiments to Haynes:
"It's OKC," she said. "It's the same atmosphere that they've always had, so we wouldn't expect anything different. I just think it's too hyped. It's just basketball. Not even as a fan and being here and watching both of them, I really don't get it. But it is what it is."
Westbrook didn't only earn the win, he posted the better individual numbers. The 2016-17 league MVP tallied 34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals, while Durant finished with 21 points and five boards.
Fans anxious to see the drama between the two Western Conference competitors will have to wait until Feb. 6 when they square off in Oracle Arena. Durant's next return trip to Oklahoma City doesn't come until April 3.