Thunder guard Russell Westbrook and Rockets guard Patrick Beverley picked up their rivalry right where it left off during the 2013 playoffs when Oklahoma City defeated Houston 106-98 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on Tuesday.
The backstory: Westbrook suffered a season-ending knee injury last year when he reacted awkwardly to a lunge from Beverley, who was attempting to steal the ball as Westbrook called timeout. Since that injury, Westbrook has undergone two additional surgeries on his knee. The play, and Westbrook's subsequent absence, caused Beverley to receive death threats from an Oklahoma City ballboy.
On Tuesday, history repeated itself when Beverley again jumped toward Westbrook as he tried to call a timeout during the first quarter. Westbrook immediately took exception to the act and the two players jawed at each other before third parties could intervene. Beverley was hit with a technical foul on the play but he was allowed to remain in the game.
Westbrook would get the last laugh, as he finished with 24 points (on 6-for-14 shooting), seven assists, four rebounds and four steals. Beverley tallied two points (on 1-for-4 shooting), three assists, two rebounds and two steals.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 42 points (on 12-for-22 shooting), five rebounds and four assists. James Harden registered a team-high 28 points (on 9-for-21 shooting), nine assists and eight rebounds for the Rockets in a losing effort. Oklahoma City snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 47-17 with the victory. Houston dropped to 44-20 with the loss.