Russell Westbrook, Paul George and coach Billy Donovan were each fined $15,000 on Wednesday for critical comments of officiating after the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s loss Sunday to the Portland Trail Blazers.
After Carmelo Anthony was controversially ejected for a flagrant foul 2 in third quarter — a call the league upheld after further review — Westbrook, Donovan and George all gave thoughts about that play, as well as a play moments before that was not reviewed after Westbrook was caught in the face.
“I got hit in the face. They didn’t review it as they should,” Westbrook said. “I just think that when it’s us, our team, myself, they don’t do the same thing they do. Last game, tipped ball, against Celtics, I accidentally hit the guy in the face. Flagrant foul on me. It was an accident, but I hit him. I actually got hit in the face today. Nobody looks at it. Melo goes, hits Nurkic. They go review. It’s a bunch of bulls—.”
“I just think they don’t referee the same way all the time,” Westbrook added. “They pick and choose when they want to do it, which is not fair, in my opinion. I’ve been in this league for a while, and I’m able to see it and understand it and see what’s right or what’s wrong, but I can see it’s blatant, s— that’s not getting looked at, in my opinion. Get hit, you need to look at it. You look at everything else, you need to take a look at it.”
During the third quarter against Portland, Anthony attacked the basket and collided with Jusef Nurkic mid-air, double-clutching a layup attempt. Anthony caught Nurkic with an elbow to the face, before finishing an and-1. After review, the and-1 was wiped out and Anthony was assessed a flagrant 2, resulting in an ejection. The league said on Wednesday the play remains a flagrant 2.
“The flagrant 2 called on Carmelo Anthony on Sunday stands as called,” a league spokesman said on Wednesday. “We reviewed it, the same as we review all plays of this nature, and agree with the on-court officials that the foul met the criteria of hard contact above the shoulders with high potential for injury. While attempting to draw a foul, Anthony extended his elbow into his opponent’s face, which is dangerous and reckless in nature.”
Donovan didn’t directly criticize the officials about Anthony’s ejection, saying only he’d never seen a player thrown out for an and-1, but was fined for answering a question about Westbrook’s free throw struggles by pointing out the overall free throw discrepancy on the season.
“What’s more concerning to me is our opponents have gotten to the free throw line 50 more times than we have,” Donovan said. “And we’ve got a player in Russell who clearly, historically in this league, has gotten to the free throw line as much or if not more than anybody else in this league.”
The Thunder have attempted 194 free throws this season while their opponents have taken a combined 230. (Prior to Tuesday’s game against the Kings, it was 171 to 218.)
“Every night, we haven’t been getting the benefit of the doubt,” George said after Sunday’s game. “I don’t know what it is, especially for Russ. He attacks the basket, and so many of his plays at the rim are questionable, and he’s not getting the benefit of the doubt.”
The league also rescinded a flagrant 1 foul Westbrook was assessed in Tuesday’s loss to the Kings. In attempting a pull-up jumper, Bogan Bogdanovic got under Westbrook’s landing space a bit, causing Westbrook to extend his arm on his follow-through, catching Bogdanovic in the face.
“After review, we determined that the contact was part of Russell’s downward shooting motion and the defender was moving forward into his shooting space,” a league spokesman said. “Accordingly, the contact has been downgraded from a flagrant 1 to a common offensive foul.”