Apology by SMS after Durant is ejected

Oklahoma City Thunder player Kevin Durant looks at the video board in the game in Texas, on April 23, 2016.
Oklahoma City Thunder player Kevin Durant looks at the video board in the game in Texas, on April 23, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

DALLAS • Kevin Durant was not on the court to celebrate Oklahoma City Thunder's 119-108 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday that got them a step closer to the Western Conference semi-finals.

Instead, the National Basketball Association superstar watched in the locker room after being ejected for a flagrant 2 foul with less than a minute left. Durant appeared to try and block a shot by Mavs guard Justin Anderson, but his violent swipe landed on the rookie's head.

Officials reviewed the play and ejected Durant, who could be subject to suspension by the league. But Durant texted an apology to Anderson after the game, and said it was not intentional.

"I wasn't trying to hurt him," the forward said after his team took a 3-1 lead. "It wasn't flagrant. The refs had to make the call."

Durant faced more criticism, too, when Dallas coach Rick Carlisle pointed him out specifically in a complaint about "non-basketball physical escalations" by the Thunder in Game 3.

Oklahoma City have not trailed since their Game 2 loss and Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki felt Durant's foul was uncalled for.

"They were up, whatever, double digits with under a minute to go," said the German, who led his team with 27 points. "I think that was unnecessary. Everything else was in the flow of the game to me."

Yet there was another testy moment in the second quarter. Thunder's Randy Foye threw the ball into the hands of reserve Anthony Morrow on the bench.

Dallas centre Salah Mejri went to retrieve the ball from Morrow, who played a game of keep-away with Mejri before tossing it toward an official. That did not sit well with Mejri or guard J.J. Barea, and a light scuffle and words were exchanged between the two teams.

Officials spent about six minutes reviewing the incident and decided to slap the Thunder bench with a delay of game penalty, and issued technical fouls to Mejri and Russell Westbrook.

Those unfortunate situations overshadowed a Thunder win led by reserve Enes Kanter, who recorded 28 points - a personal-best in the play-offs. The centre made 12-of-13 field goals and all four of his free-throw attempts.

Westbrook had 25 points and 15 assists for the Thunder, posting a double-double in every game so far this series.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2016, with the headline 'Apology by SMS after Durant is ejected'. Print Edition | Subscribe