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Russell Westbrook got T’d up for heel-kicking Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the groin

Russell Westbrook got T’d up for heel-kicking Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the groin

The NBA made it clear this summer that, after a postseason full of belowthebelt business, referees would make groin shots an officiating focal point in the 2016-17 campaign. On Monday night, that commitment to cup-check prevention meant bad news for Oklahoma City Thunder flamethrower Russell Westbrook — though, to be fair, it definitely meant worse news for Detroit Pistons swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

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With the Pistons holding a 16-point lead late in the second quarter, Westbrook raced into the frontcourt, looking to cut into Detroit’s cushion. Caldwell-Pope reached out to try to poke the ball free from the charging point guard, but Westbrook sharply dribbled between his legs from right to left and made his way to the right elbow, the favored spot for his “cotton shot.” As he rose up, though, Westbrook kicked his left leg back behind him … and caught KCP square in the nether regions:

After reviewing the play, the refs decided that Westbrook’s play merited a technical foul, which might have been a bit harsh:

… and which certainly didn’t make Russ too happy:

“Apparently I kicked him on purpose or something,” Westbrook said after the game, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman.

I can appreciate Russ’ displeasure at the technical — maybe he was trying to draw contact, though I doubt he was trying to endanger Caldwell-Pope’s fertility — but the T hardly seems as raw a deal as the one Caldwell-Pope got. Not only did he get heel-kicked in the junk, but he also got called for a foul on the play, sending Westbrook to the line for two free throws. That’s the kind of thing that’ll leave you feeling sick to your stomach. Well, that and … the other thing. The other thing will do that, too.

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Westbrook promptly ripped off a 10-1 run to cut OKC’s deficit to nine, but Pistons center Aron Baynes worked his way to a three-point play to push the lead back to 12 heading into halftime. Despite missing point guard Reggie Jackson, who’s still working his way back from knee tendinitis, and All-Star center Andre Drummond, who sat with a sprained ankle, Detroit continued to control the run of play after halftime, leading by as many as 19 and coming away with a 104-88 win behind big nights from Baynes (20 points, eight rebounds) and forward Tobias Harris (22 points, six rebounds, three assists, two blocks, one steal), as well as timely contributions from reserves Beno Udrih (10 points, four rebounds, four assists) and Jon Leuer (eight points, nine rebounds, four assists, one block).

That was enough to outlast an Oklahoma City side that had Westbrook (33 points, 15 rebounds, eight assists, seven turnovers) and little else. Non-Russ Thunderers combined to shoot just 32.8 percent from the floor, with Westbrook’s new backcourt partner Victor Oladipo doing the bulk of the bricklaying (nine points on 4-for-17 shooting) as OKC dropped its fourth straight game after a 6-1 start.

Caldwell-Pope, thankfully, didn’t appear too much worse for wear after the low blow, pressing on and finishing with 17 points, four assists, three rebounds and a steal in 33 1/2 minutes. He even got a measure of revenge in the fourth quarter, extending Detroit’s lead to a dozen with this bit of blithe nonsense:

After watching KCP somehow get that shot to drop, Westbrook and the Thunder must have felt like somebody just … well, you know.

More NBA coverage:

Worlds collided as President Obama received both President Elect Donald Trump and the NBA Championship Cleveland Cavaliers at the White House on Thursday.

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Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

Stay connected with Ball Don’t Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL, “Like” BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don’t Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.


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