LOS ANGELES — The word that keeps coming up when talking about the Oklahoma City and Los Angeles series is physical. One team wants to get physical while the other wants to be prepared for it.
Each game the physical nature has risen. That included Game 4 when several times Sunday players either had to be separated or exchanged words and shoves.
The incident that had most media members and fans talking came early in the first quarter when the Thunder’s Serge Ibaka hit the Clipper’s Blake Griffin in the midsection.
L.A. Coach Doc Rivers was forced to call a timeout to let his star walk off the pain. However, he doesn’t want to see the physical style of ball go away.
“I don’t worry about all that,” Rivers said. “I love the physical play. I think they should just keep playing physical, let them play like that. If a guy throws a punch, the league will take care of it.”
During the game, no foul was called on Ibaka. But as Oklahoma City fans learned during the series with Memphis that doesn’t mean the NBA will not look at the incident and decide if it was a punch or not. If they do feel Ibaka intentionally hit Griffin, he could have the same result as the Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph when he was suspended for Game 7.
However, Ibaka said he didn’t throw a punch.
“There was no punch thrown,’ Ibaka said. “Both players, we just like to play physical. And if you see the play, there was no punch thrown. One of my teammates (Kendrick Perkins) pushed me from the back and I tried to fall. And he was up (in the air) already.”
Griffin would not say whether he thought Ibaka hit him on purpose. But he didn’t leave out the possibility that he did.