OKLAHOMA CITY – Russell Westbrook wouldn’t say he wanted payback against Patrick Beverley.
His play said otherwise.
During last year’s playoffs, Beverley dived for the ball and ran into Westbrook’s right knee as a timeout was being called, causing the injury that ended Westbrook’s season and cost him about half of this season. In their first meeting since the incident, Westbrook had 24 points, seven assists and four steals to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Houston Rockets 106-98 on Tuesday night.
Kevin Durant of the Thunder scored a game-high 42 points.
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Beverley finished with two points and five fouls in 25 minutes while being booed by a spirited crowd. His matchup with Westbrook highlighted a game filled with shoving, technical fouls, trash talking and even a flagrant foul.
“Two great teams that want to win: It’s that simple,” Houston’s James Harden, who scored 28 points, said. “When you get that anytime in the NBA, things are going to get physical.”
The chippiness started early. Beverley swiped the ball from Westbrook after a timeout with 6:10 left in the first quarter. Beverley and Westbrook had to be separated, and Beverley issued a technical foul. Beverley and Westbrook got tangled up again about a minute later, but again, Westbrook kept his cool. Durant said Westbrook’s ability to turn the energy into a strong performance was impressive.
“He just went out there and played to win,” Durant said. “That’s how Russell always plays — with an edge, with that intensity, and tonight was no different.”
Beverley said he wasn’t trying to get inside of Westbrook’s head.
“That’s how I play against everybody,” he said. “No personal battles out there today. I had to go out there and fight and do what I do to try to help our team win a basketball game today.”
Spurs extend winning streak to 7
CHICAGO – Manu Ginobili scored 22 points and Tony Parker added 20 as the league-leading San Antonio Spurs beat the Chicago Bulls 104-96.
Kawhi Leonard added 16 for San Antonio, which won its seventh straight and 10th in its last 11.
The Spurs improved to 24-6 on the road, the league’s best mark away from home.
D.J. Augustin led the Bulls with 24 points and Jimmy Butler scored 23.
• David West scored 24 points and center Andrew Bynum grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds in his Pacers debut, helping suddenly struggling Indiana pull away late for a 94-83 victory over Boston.
The Eastern Conference-leading Pacers snapped their longest losing streak of the season at four.
Indiana signed former All-Star Bynum on Feb. 1.
• Josh Smith scored 24 points and Rodney Stuckey — a former standout at Eastern Washington and Kentwood High School in Covington — added 23 to lift the host Detroit Pistons to a 99-89 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Rudy Gay scored 20 points and Isaiah Thomas, a former Washington Huskies guard, added 19 points and eight assists for Sacramento.
• Marc Gasol scored 19 points, Zach Randolph added 18 points and 12 rebounds and the Memphis Grizzlies solidified their hold on the final Western Conference playoff spot with a 109-99 victory over visiting Portland.
Mike Conley added 17 points for Memphis, which won its third straight.
Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 32 points.
• Kevin Love had 27 points and 10 rebounds as host Minnesota beat Milwaukee 112-101.
• Jordan Crawford scored 19 points as Golden State routed the Dallas Mavericks 108-85 for its fifth straight victory.