OAKLAND, Calif. – With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, a inlet of their difference has to be energetic by what isn’t said. The once-incredible partnership isn’t on vocalization terms, Westbrook announced after a Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder staged their latest feisty though mostly non-competitive diversion Wednesday during Oracle Arena. They had a brief sell of difference in a third entertain of the Warriors’ 121-100 romp, though Westbrook incited his behind on Durant and abruptly finished a review with his silence. So, keep on watchful for these dual to crush it out, scream it out or cuddle it out, since that impulse won’t come anytime soon, if during all.
For now, fans, media and social-media dwellers have to elaborate or emanate fictitious situations to build adult some hype that conjunction Durant nor Westbrook is meddlesome in generating. That’s how Westbrook shouting, “Thanks, Jamie!” scarcely 15 mins before a Warriors mislaid to Cleveland on Christmas day led to conjecture that he indeed bellowed, “Thanks, Kyrie!” That’s how discerning some were to assume that Durant was a dictated aim when Westbrook was held on camera after Wednesday’s diversion using a derogative term to demarcate Enes Kanter from vocalization to someone.
“We live for debate in this universe right now. That’s critical for some,” Durant told The Vertical after scoring a season-high 40 points on usually 16 shots opposite his former team.
No, Durant and Westbrook aren’t on a best of terms, though they have not postulated others acknowledgment into their inner drama. They are settling into life though any other, expanding their games and anticipating comfort in what they are becoming. Durant is a some-more fit scorer who no longer has to worry about stealing bad shots from his diet since he gets so many good looks in Golden State’s teeming offense. Westbrook is one of a dual frontrunners for a league’s MVP award, blitzing a stat piece by branch a high into a routine, all while averaging an excessive triple-double.
“The outward is holding it some-more critical than substantially we are,” Durant told The Vertical. “I’m out there doing my thing. we don’t have time to concentration on things that unequivocally don’t matter to me.”
For 8 years, Durant and Westbrook common a same objectives: to settle themselves as NBA superstars, lift a Thunder into contenders and eventually win a title. They got dual of a three, with Durant withdrawal to follow a championship with a formidable preference that means he now has to win or get slandered. Westbrook is underneath no vigour and his fable usually grows stronger as a solo act. Watching them on hostile sides competence still seem to be weird, though not to them.
“Not anymore,” Durant told The Vertical. “First diversion was. But now, it’s usually competing. Going out there and personification as tough as we can and perplexing to assistance my group win. It’s simple.”
Debating if they are improved off detached is astray until Westbrook has a group that is opposition adequate to indeed plea Durant and a Warriors. But a Thunder are a substantial team or a few outrageous trades from removing there. Until then, Westbrook stays a league’s many energetic one-man show. His talents are garnering some-more appreciation than they ever would had Durant stayed. And that’s one of a many ungainly and unsatisfactory aspects of this divorce.
Since Durant was among a initial to rise to stardom, Westbrook was expel into a sidekick purpose in that he was never comfortable. He resisted any boxes being shaped around him and rebelled opposite any attempts to extent his talents. That widen when Durant was harmed dual seasons ago suggested some-more was there, and a initial half of this deteriorate has usually reliable what Westbrook always believed about his mass and care abilities.
An intensely immature and fresh Thunder group is in playoff row and winning games few approaching since Westbrook refuses to be intimidated by doing everything. But these dual games opposite a Warriors have painfully suggested a subdivision of a dual franchises, that shouldn’t be startling deliberation Durant’s depart separated Golden State’s closest Western Conference rival. Though he has played with a non-flammable rage, Westbrook had to be many harm by Durant’s depart since it put him that many serve divided from a ring.
Westbrook’s biggest success this deteriorate has been hogging some of a spotlight from a Warriors group that is usually dual games off final season’s record-breaking, 73-game pace. But a ancestral run of triple-doubles and another scoring pretension competence not even produce an MVP since of what James Harden has been doing in Houston. And after Durant once again broken his former team’s dreams with a crushing, roughly flawless performance, Warriors manager Steve Kerr done a box for a Maurice Podoloff Trophy staying in Oakland, where Stephen Curry has done certain it has resided a past dual seasons.
“[Durant’s] substantially not going to win MVP since other people out there that are personification intensely well. we don’t consider anybody is some-more efficient,” Kerr said. “He’s carrying a illusory season, though it’s kind of going underneath a radar, in some ways, since of what a lot of other players are doing out there.”
That Durant’s best and second-best scoring outings of a deteriorate have come opposite his former group are no coincidence, no matter how unchanging he has been all season, or how many he tries to downplay a situation. The Thunder can appreciate one of a Oracle Arena rims for creation Durant demeanour tellurian in a dispersion as he missed a breakaway dunk that led to a humorous greeting from Draymond Green, who playfully asked what a problem was with a shrug. “I attempted to asperse it too hard,” Durant said.
Westbrook did open adult a lines of communication in a many Westbrook way, as he came attack down a lane, standing behind a round and tangled as a late-reacting Durant attempted to contest. Westbrook glared during Durant and scolded him with “Don’t jump!” Durant waited above a 3-point line, begged for a round and Curry set him adult for one of Durant’s 5 creates from prolonged distance. A few security later, Durant drew a foul, plopped adult and walked toward Westbrook to contend a few words. Durant was so focused on Westbrook that he missed Curry attempting to give him a high-five. Curry hilariously slapped his possess hand.
“You got to lay closer to a game. You maybe didn’t see clearly,” Westbrook pronounced of a exchange.
Durant also refused to share what was said: “He dunked a ball. we ran down court, called for a ball, shot a 3 and done it.”
Through these initial dual games, a many exhilarated exchanges involving Durant and Westbrook have been them removing into it with hostile large men. In a Nov. 3 matchup, Durant had some rabble speak with Kanter, one of some-more outspoken critics of Durant’s move. And Wednesday, Westbrook crashed into a wall of Zaza Pachulia in a second entertain that resulted in a extreme tainted 1 for Pachulia and a guarantee for retribution. If that collision contributed to a duration mental relapse in that Westbrook done one of a many gross roving violations ever – 5 stairs before a leap – no one can truly say. But Westbrook positively won’t forget – generally after he after satisfied that Pachulia stood over him as he writhed on a building in pain.
“He strike me kind of hard,” Westbrook said. “But it’s all right. I’m gonna get his donkey back. Straight up. … Whenever that is, we don’t know what it’s going to be, though we don’t play that game.”
Pachulia was dismissive of Westbrook’s threat, creation a criticism that effectively summed adult where these franchises stand. “I can’t worry about those kind of comments. I’m partial of a extraordinary team. We have a good idea to win a championship,” Pachulia said. “That group is not there. So that group competence be meditative about other stuff, like removing me back. OK, we can get me back. But this is my 14th year, we all know that my diversion is to play hard, not dirty.”
Being during home opposite a Thunder has supposing a defense for Durant while also permitting him to get some-more gentle in being a Warrior: He’s usually indispensable 40 shots to measure 79 points and hasn’t listened one boo. But Durant will be forced to confront his past in a subsequent dual meetings, a initial nearing Feb. 11. Durant doesn’t know how he will feel as he stairs into Chesapeake Energy Arena as an enemy, though he is certain that it won’t be a jubilee of a 8 years of good play that he supposing for a NBA’s closest homogeneous to a rabid, college crowd.
“I’m certain it won’t be a comfortable welcome,” Durant told The Vertical. “I’m intelligent adequate to check a heat on this whole situation. we know that. But we can’t predict. we don’t even know how I’ll feel. To me, it doesn’t matter. we know what we did. The people around, who were tighten to me, they know what we did. And that’s all that unequivocally matters. we can’t remove nap over it.”
More NBA coverage from The Vertical:
Do you have an unusual story to tell? E-mail email@example.com