Bad enough that Wizards star Russell Westbrook hurt his ankle with 10:29 to play in the fourth quarter of the Sixers’ blowout win over Washington in Game 2 of their opening-round Eastern Conference playoff battle. It only got worse when, as he was heading to the tunnel leading to the visitors’ locker room, Westbrook was doused with a box of popcorn.
Westbrook had little patience for the salted-treat shower. He immediately began heading into the stands to find the fan who had doused him but was held back by NBA security—six guards in all. The fan who threw the popcorn was, according to multiple reports, ejected from the game.
It was a bitter but fitting end to a difficult night for Westbrook, who had 10 points and 11 assists but shot just 2-for-10 from the floor as his team now faces very long odds against the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Westbrook was 0-for-3 from the 3-point line and even missed four foul shots, going 6-for-10 from the line.
Westbrook appeared to injure his left ankle while pushing the ball against Sixers guard Furkan Korkmaz. As Korkmaz and Westbrook collided, Westbrook landed awkwardly on the ankle and appeared in bad pain.
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Sixers Starters Rested as Westbrook Injured
The poor luck for the Wizards, though, was the Sixers’ good fortune. Not only did Philadelphia take control of the game early on, they were able to build an insurmountable lead by the time the final 12 minutes came around. The Sixers led by as many as 27 points in the game, and the Wizards only held the lead twice, by one point for a grand total of 43 seconds.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers took advantage of the blowout, resting his starting five of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Seth Curry and Danny Green for the entire fourth quarter. Given the grind of the playoffs and the need for rest, it could have ramifications for the rest of this series and beyond.
Still, Rivers’ decision almost certainly cost Simmons a playoff triple-double, as he wound up with 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in just 28:34 of playing time. Embiid also had 22 points, while Harris had 19. The Sixers’ starting five earned the rest, having shot 34-for-50 (68.0%) from the field in the game.
But the Westbrook confrontation was the talk of the postgame.
Said Wizards coach Scott Brooks: “Very disrespectful. Philadelphia is better than that if that did happen. Hopefully, the kid or person is banned from the league from watching any games because that’s unacceptable. They wouldn’t do that down the street.”
Westbrook, Sixers Fans Have a History
Westbrook had a famed run-in with fans in Philadelphia over the years. The most famous came five years ago when Westbrook, then in Oklahoma City, got into a running argument with urologist Dr. Richard Harkaway and told him to sit down. Harkaway claims Westbrook called either him or his wife a “fat B.”
Harkaway, naturally, did the natural Philadelphian thing: He stood up and gave Westbrook two obscene finger gestures.
The bad news for Westbrook, of course, is that the injured ankle could keep him out for the rest of the playoffs. The good news is that, without Westbrook, the Wizards don’t have much of a chance to win even a game in this opening series and thus, Westbrook won’t have to come back to Philadelphia this season.