John Wall and Russell Westbrook, the pair of level guards with most salaries swapped for one another simply earlier than coaching camps opened, stood close to the free throw line halfway by the fourth quarter and barked at one another Tuesday evening on the Toyota Heart.
Wall, who readily acknowledged that his adrenaline was pumping onerous in his first recreation in opposition to the Washington Wizards after spending the earlier decade with the franchise, had the higher hand and apparently needed to verify Westbrook heard about it.
Wall had simply accounted for the entire Rockets’ factors throughout a crucial 9-2 run — getting two buckets, sinking two free throws and dishing for a 3 in the important thing spurt, giving Houston a double-digit lead in what was a 107-88 win. The heated change of phrases that prompted double technical fouls to be known as — “simply fundamental basketball trash speak,” Wall stated — occurred after Wall discovered a Westbrook drive that resulted in a foul with 5:16 remaining.
“That is what two aggressive guys do,” stated Wall, who had 9 of his 24 factors within the fourth quarter of the Rockets’ third consecutive victory. “Russ been kicking my ass for years. That is solely my third win in opposition to Russ, I feel, since I have been within the league. In order that signifies that he is a hell of a expertise.
“I do know he is going by accidents, similar as I used to be, and we’re simply making an attempt to maintain getting higher, making an attempt to steer our groups. However (it was) simply two aggressive guys trash speaking. This ain’t the primary time we trash talked earlier than, and we all know how good that he may be.”
Westbrook, whose profession file in conferences with Wall dropped to 11-3 with the loss, did not take such a diplomatic method when requested in regards to the on-court dialogue.
“Now hear, I do not begin speaking s—,” Westbrook stated. “I defend myself as a result of I do not simply permit folks to say simply something, particularly once I know the info because it pertains to anyone on the court docket enjoying in opposition to (me). So, I feel (Wall and DeMarcus Cousins) simply began speaking s— as a result of they simply began to win, began profitable at the moment. So, you realize, it is cool, although. We play them once more.”
Westbrook downplayed the that means of his return to Houston, which had just one participant within the beginning lineup that was his teammate final season. He spent just one season with the Rockets earlier than requesting a commerce.
“I do not like shedding to anyone,” stated Westbrook, who had 19 factors, 11 rebounds, seven assists and 6 turnovers within the loss, his second recreation again after recovering from a quadriceps pressure.
The Wizards, nevertheless, have misplaced rather a lot this season. Washington, which remains to be lacking a number of gamers after a number of video games had been postponed as a consequence of COVID-19 instances, is 3-10 general and 1-8 in video games that Westbrook has performed.
However, this was a recreation that Wall was trying ahead to because the Wizards traded him together with a protected future first-round decide to the Rockets for Westbrook. He has admitted a number of instances that he felt slighted that the Wizards did not give him an opportunity to proceed his profession in Washington after getting back from heel and Achilles tendon accidents that sidelined Wall for 2 years.
“I simply really feel just like the group thought I used to be performed, regardless of how a lot onerous work I put in over the summer time,” Wall stated throughout a postgame interview on the Rockets’ tv broadcast. “They got here and watched me. I believed they thought I used to be performed. That is why I got here out right here and did what I did.”
Wall had 15 factors and 4 assists within the first half, highlighted by him going coast to coast earlier than going behind his again within the lane and ending along with his left hand in site visitors. Wall, who was on a minutes restriction in his second recreation again after a five-game absence as a consequence of a sore knee, struggled within the third quarter, lacking all 4 of his pictures from the ground and committing two turnovers. However he closed out the Wizards within the fourth, when Wall mixed with Victor Oladipo to attain 19 of Houston’s 32 factors within the new backcourt companions’ first recreation collectively.
“I’ve identified this man (Wall) for a very long time,” stated Cousins, who had 19 factors and 11 rebounds. “I’ve seen his method to large video games and video games which have some kind of significance to him. I’ve seen him carry out each time at a excessive stage, so I did not anticipate something much less.”