Oklahoma City Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook has been suspended for one game after recording his 16th technical foul of the year, ESPN reported Sunday.
Westbrook received a technical foul for arguing with referee Tyler Ford in Sunday’s 110-88 loss against the Golden State Warriors. The Thunder guard was looking for a favorable call after driving to the rim against Golden State’s Klay Thompson, but wasn’t awarded the foul. Out of frustration, Westbrook then fouled Thompson and proceeded to argue with Ford, triggering the technical foul against Westbrook.
NBA rules stipulate that any player who accumulates 16 technical fouls in a given season automatically incurs a one-game suspension without pay. Westbrook has indicated he’ll serve his suspension tonight against the Miami Heat.
Going forward, Westbrook will be suspended one game for every two technical fouls he receives the rest of the regular season. With 20 games remaining, he could trigger two more suspensions if he keeps up his current pace. His count will reset for the playoffs if the Thunder reaches them as expected.
The timing of the suspension could hardly be worse for the Thunder as a team. While they currently sit in fifth place in the Western Conference, they’re 4-6 through their last 10 games and are currently on a two-game losing streak. If they can’t get back in the win column Monday night without their leader, they could be in serious trouble as four of their next five games are against playoff teams, including a two-game series with the Toronto Raptors and a primetime matchup with the Denver Nuggets.
Russell Westbrook when defended by Klay Thompson last night on 44 possessions:
0/6 3PT pic.twitter.com/o0koa7YZG6
— r/Warriors (@GSWReddit) March 17, 2019
Beyond the technical foul, Westbrook struggled mightily against the Warriors throughout Saturday’s game and while facing Klay Thompson in particular. The Golden State shooting guard held Westbrook to just three points and three assists on a whopping 44 possessions. The Thunder star went 0-12 from the field and 0-6 from beyond the arc when defended by Thompson. For the game as a whole, Westbrook managed only seven points on 2-16 shooting (0-7 from 3-point range) in 32 minutes of action.
The upcoming suspension certainly poses a challenge for the Thunder in the short term. If Westbrook can’t up his level of play down the stretch and through the playoff push, the team might be in trouble far beyond Monday night. For now, his main challenge is controlling his frustration and channeling it onto the court — not letting it run over, earning another technical, and costing his team another game.