OKLAHOMA CITY — Running away with a win against a Memphis team in disarray after trading away top scorer Rudy Gay, the Thunder found a way to come unhinged, too.
An outburst aimed at his own team earned All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook a third-quarter benching and gave the Grizzlies a glimmer of hope before Oklahoma City closed out a 106-89 victory Thursday night.
Just when the Thunder seemed to be firmly in control, Westbrook started sniping with his teammates after a possession when he posted up along the left side of the lane and eventually got called for a turnover when Jerryd Bayless stuck with him on defense for five seconds.
Westbrook then spiked the ball twice, gesturing toward Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Durant that they needed to get open. He then hollered to coach Scott Brooks on the bench.
Memphis followed his outburst with 10 straight points to make it a game again, with Westbrook getting an early hook during the stretch and heading toward the locker room.
He sat out about eight minutes before Brooks put him back in to start the fourth quarter.
Westbrook, who finished with 21 points, described it as "just a little miscommunication." Brooks said it was an offensive play that went awry. Sefolosha acted as though nothing happened.
The result was a mini-implosion right in the public eye.
"It was a disagreement," said Durant, who scored 27. "This is the game of basketball. You have so many different emotions on one team. You're going to have disagreements. It wasn't the first. It's not going to be the last."
"I decided to take Russell out because we needed to calm down," Brooks said. "Russell went in the back. It was nothing. He just had to regroup. … It was nothing that has not happened before — not just with him, with all of our guys."
Brooks finally put him back in the game to start the fourth.
Reeling Magic: Forward Glen Davis is scheduled for surgery today to repair a broken bone in his left foot, and Magic officials said he likely will be out 8-12 weeks, essentially ending his season as Orlando is unlikely to reach the postseason.
Howard ailing: Lakers center Dwight Howard, who aggravated torn cartilage in his right shoulder in a loss Wednesday at Phoenix, was diagnosed with a sore shoulder and is day to day, ESPN reported. The team is expected to update his status tonight. Also, Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio is standing up for fellow Spaniard Pau Gasol, saying it's unfair the way Gasol is having to come off the Lakers' bench this season. "He proved to the league he is one of the best," Rubio said. "I think if you use him in the right way, he is a top player in this league. If they don't want him, we are more than welcome to get him."
Around the league: Raptors coach Dwane Casey was fined $25,000 by the league for criticizing officials after Wednesday's loss at Atlanta.
Thunder 106, Grizzlies 89
MEMPHIS (89): Allen 3-12 2-2 8, Randolph 4-17 1-2 9, Gasol 6-15 4-5 16, Conley 7-19 0-0 17, Bayless 9-17 3-4 23, Wroten 1-2 4-4 6, Arthur 4-10 0-0 9, Johnson 0-6 1-2 1, Leuer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-98 15-19 89.
OKLAHOMA CITY (106): Durant 10-16 7-9 27, Ibaka 2-3 0-0 4, Perkins 2-3 3-4 7, Westbrook 9-17 2-2 21, Sefolosha 3-5 0-0 7, Collison 4-5 4-4 12, Martin 5-13 3-4 16, Thabeet 2-2 0-0 4, Jackson 1-4 2-2 4, Jones 1-2 0-0 2, Maynor 0-0 0-0 0, Liggins 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 40-72 21-25 106.
Memphis 22 12 33 22— 89
Oklahoma City 32 26 21 27— 106
3-Point Goals—Memphis 6-25 (Conley 3-9, Bayless 2-5, Arthur 1-3, Wroten 0-1, Allen 0-1, Gasol 0-1, Johnson 0-5), Oklahoma City 5-14 (Martin 3-4, Sefolosha 1-2, Westbrook 1-4, Liggins 0-1, Ibaka 0-1, Durant 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Memphis 52 (Randolph 19), Oklahoma City 52 (Westbrook 9). Assists—Memphis 19 (Bayless 6), Oklahoma City 25 (Durant, Westbrook 6). Total Fouls—Memphis 23, Oklahoma City 18. Technicals—Durant, Liggins, Oklahoma City defensive three second. A—18,203.