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The Thunder leads the NBA in technical fouls; how's that working out?

Russell Westbrook leads the NBA with 15 technical fouls, not counting two that were rescinded.

Billy Donovan has been called for nine techs, one of them rescinded. Only Memphis’ J.B. Bickerstaff has more among coaches.

Paul George was fined $25,000 Saturday for criticizing the officiating Friday night after the Clipper game; he’s one of only four players to take that plunge this season in the league.

The Thunder is the only NBA team sporting three players with at least eight technical (Dennis Schroder has nine, George eight).

The Thunder as a team leads the NBA with 70 technicals.

The evidence is clear. OKC leads the NBA in moaning and complaining. And in the words of a former University of Tulsa linebacker, how’s that working out for you, OKC?

“Someone’s got to look into this,” George said in Los Angeles after the tight loss to the Clippers.

Someone has. Me. And the Thunder’s act is becoming old. The Thunder’s act is becoming embarrassing. The Thunder’s attitude and culture has become dominated by excuse-making. From players to coaches to the absurd broadcasts, the Thunder is all about blaming the officiating. That’s a loser’s mentality and it will sink this ship if not eradicated.

There’s an anti-Thunder bent from NBA referees? That’s silly, but OK, I’ll play along. If the officiating is out to get the Thunder, show some proof.

The Thunder is third in the NBA in foul shots per game and fifth in the NBA in opponent foul shots per game. The Thunder is an athletic, aggressive team. Both sides of the ball. The Thunder fouls a lot and gets fouled a lot. That’s what you’d expect out of this kind of team, right?

Westbrook and George routinely drive and routinely take chances on defense. Shouldn’t high volume fouls be the result?

And even if you are paranoid enough to believe that the refs are out to get you, wouldn’t a little charm work better than rancor? You catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar.

I don’t know what PG13 was like in Indiana. Maybe he was mild-mannered. Maybe he let the whistles roll off his back, which is what players ought to do. But if so, George clearly has been affected by his almost two seasons with the Thunder. Donovan, too, who by nature seems more Clark Kent but feels the need to push the officiating button, either out of personal frustration or to take up the cause of players about to blow a gasket.

The Thunder is suffering from a serious lack of self-awareness. The Thunder wants more whistles going its way, but OKC is making 71.4 percent from the line, third-worst in the league. Is that the refs’ fault, too?

The Thunder lost to LA in part because of serious foul trouble from Westbrook and George. Westbrook’s first foul Friday night, with less than three minutes into the game, was an intentional grab by Westbrook so he could argue a non-call on the previous possession. And oh yeah, it also was the Thunder’s fifth of the quarter, sending the Clippers into the bonus ridiculously early.

Westbrook’s fifth foul, with 7:37 left in the third quarter and which sent him to the bench for more than 10 minutes on a night when he was playing sensationally, was even more foolish, trying for a steal from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and instead running over the Clipper rookie.

Those are self-induced penalties. Those come from a lack of game sense. The officials are not out to get the Thunder. But the Thunder has fostered a culture in which blaming the refs has become a cottage industry. It’s condoned. Accepted. Encouraged.

And it’s not working. Try some honey.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at btramel@oklahoman.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

Related Photos
<strong>Russell Westbrook yells at a referee after being called for a technical foul in San Antonio on March 2. Westbrook has 15 techs this season. [AP Photo]</strong>

Russell Westbrook yells at a referee after being called for a technical foul in San Antonio on March 2. Westbrook has 15 techs this season. [AP Photo]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-59b8cef99d27c4245035076107462232.jpg" alt="Photo - Russell Westbrook yells at a referee after being called for a technical foul in San Antonio on March 2. Westbrook has 15 techs this season. [AP Photo] " title=" Russell Westbrook yells at a referee after being called for a technical foul in San Antonio on March 2. Westbrook has 15 techs this season. [AP Photo] "><figcaption> Russell Westbrook yells at a referee after being called for a technical foul in San Antonio on March 2. Westbrook has 15 techs this season. [AP Photo] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-10d2479f66bf644c69ed7f098500257a.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan yells to a referee during a recent game in San Antonio. Donovan has nine technical fouls this season, which is second in the NBA for coaches. [AP Photo/Darren Abate] " title=" Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan yells to a referee during a recent game in San Antonio. Donovan has nine technical fouls this season, which is second in the NBA for coaches. [AP Photo/Darren Abate] "><figcaption> Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan yells to a referee during a recent game in San Antonio. Donovan has nine technical fouls this season, which is second in the NBA for coaches. [AP Photo/Darren Abate] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-59b8cef99d27c4245035076107462232.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook, right, yells at a referee after being called for a technical foul during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)" title="Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook, right, yells at a referee after being called for a technical foul during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)"><figcaption>Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook, right, yells at a referee after being called for a technical foul during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Saturday, March 2, 2019, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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