SALT LAKE CITY — With all that was on the line Saturday night, it wasn’t too surprising that the Monday’s Game 4 would get a little chippy. Or should we say a lot chippy?
Both teams talked beforehand about the game getting more physical, which it did from the start with more than the usual pushing and shoving going on. By the end of the night, seven technical fouls had been whistled and a few more probably could have been called with all the harsh words between the two teams. In addition, 44 personal fouls were called in the game.
“Both teams were aggressive and that’s the playoffs,” said Utah coach Quin Snyder. “You’re going to have aggressive physical games. Both teams want to win that’s the way the game goes, we want our players to be aggressive be solid and not lose sight of what we have to do to win the game."
Four technical fouls were whistled in the first half alone — two on each side — as the officials tried to keep a lid on things before they got out of hand.
Oklahoma City’s Paul George got the first T less than four minutes into the game after a dust-up with the annoying Joe Ingles, who has a habit of getting on opposing players’ nerves.
Then it was OKC’s Steven Adams’ turn early in the second quarter when, after thinking he was fouled by Utah’s Rudy Gobert, slapped at Gobert’s arm before he headed up court.
Utah coach Quin Snyder, whose total number of technical fouls in his four years as Jazz coach can be counted on one hand, picked up a T after Gobert was mugged underneath the basket, attempting a shot.
Snyder, his blue suit coat flying, charged out onto the court about 20 feet in front of the Jazz bench, making it an easy call for the officials.
The fourth technical came late in the first half, when Ingles appeared to get a little too mouthy after sinking his third straight 3-pointer.
Russell Westbrook, who made a guarantee to shut down Ricky Rubio after the Jazz guard went off for 26 points Saturday night, has fouled out of only 10 games in more than 800 career games over 10 seasons, but picked up four fouls in the first half alone and was clearly frustrated by the end of the night after another sub-par game (23 points on 7-of-18 shooting and just three assists).
Then with 7:55 left in the game, two more technicals were whistled after Gobert was hit in a sensitive spot in the midsection by Raymond Felton under the basket. Gobert stayed on the floor for a few seconds holding himself and then said something to Felton as he walked past him on the way to the bench and Felton reacted.
A minute later, Westbrook and Jae Crowder had words with each other heading into a timeout after the two got tangled up.
Finally with 5:30 left, Crowder and Westbrook got into again after Westbrook spun Crowder around with a foul. Crowder took offense and players from both teams formed a scrum in the middle of the floor. Carmelo Anthony tried to get at Crowder before being restrained by security, while Crowder was restrained by teammates. After a long conference by the officials, Westbrook was called for his fifth personal foul and Crowder was given a technical and ejected from the game.
Later, Snyder almost could have gotten another technical when he leaped out on the court when Westbrook appeared to throw Rubio to the floor on an offensive play. It would have been Westbrook’s sixth foul, but nothing was called and Westbrook stayed in the game as the Jazz cruised home.
"It's just what you get with playoff basketball," said OKC's George. "It's going to get chippy, it's going to get physical and we're in there for the fight."
Stayed tuned for more fireworks Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.