If you’re interested, through my extensive network of sources, I have the team’s arrival info if you’d like to welcome them back to Oklahoma and show your support. I think they could use a lift. They will be back this afternoon, arrriving at Will Rogers, Hanger 2 & 3 again, at 3:30-3:45. So head on over there, clap for them when they get off the plane, chant “BEAT LA” and maybe score a high five or something.
J.A. Adande with thoughts on last night’s game: “The Thunder don’t have a Dwight Howard to single-handedly deter shots. That might even work to their advantage. Players get lured into thinking they have a layup, then a long arm — be it Kevin Durant’s or Serge Ibaka’s or someone else’s — appears to knock the ball away. They blocked 17 shots Tuesday, the most ever by a Lakers’ opponent in the playoffs. It was so bad that Lamar Odom wound up shooting a rarely seen fallaway hook shot.”
Zach Harper of HP: “But this was a good next step for the Thunder to make. Limiting the role players worked. Getting Kevin Durant to knock down some shots worked. Defending the paint worked (17 blocked shots). Holding your own on the rebounding battle didn’t work (49-37). Getting other guys outside of KD to hit shots didn’t work (17/48 for 35.4%). However, the youngest team in the NBA took the defending NBA champs down to a decent three-point look from the NBA’s leading scorer with 15 seconds left in the game and down only two on the road.”
Sam Amick: ”Everyone in the room knew this series may have just ended, that these young Thunder had missed two reachable chances to win on the defending champions’ home floor and now face the tall task of winning four out of five. But rest assured, the buzz surrounding these boys will resume in full force soon enough. For years to come.”
Darnell Mayberry: “Offensively, the Thunder is struggling. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were the lone players who had anything going offensively. Nenad Krstic contributed a little in the third like he always does. But someone has to be able to make shots. Jeff Green needs to be that guy. He went 2-for-11 tonight, 1 of 6 from 3, and is now averaging 11 points on 27.2 percent shooting.”
Berry Tramel: ”And Green’s got to shoot better. He was 2-of-11, including the final-shot miss, and a solid game from Green might be enough to give the Thunder a blowout over the Lakers somewhere in this series. Aside from Durant and Westbrook, the Thunder made just 12 of 38 shots. Someone has to start helping on offense. But on defense, the Thunder was superb. Terrific guarding and those flurry of blocked shots. It wasn’t a victory, but it was enough to make you think the Thunder is coming back to Los Angeles very soon.”
Darius of FB&G: “The Thunder are an athletic and scrappy team. They just fight for every inch and play hard for every second. You see it in how they front the post, how the rotate on defense, and how they protect their basket. They had 17 blocks in this game. 17! Through sheer will and determination, they hustled back on defense, clogged the paint, and contested every shot taken. After the game when Scott Brooks spoke of being proud of his guys and praised them even in defeat, I understood exactly what he was saying – his guys battled, but they came up short. After games like this you don’t hold your head or get down on yourself. You use it as inspiration for the next game. The Lakers better be prepared for that when game 3 rolls around. Because the Thunder will play this same style, but they’ll have an amazing crowd pushing them to play even harder.”
Chris Mannix of SI with a few thoughts: “Get to know Serge Ibaka. Many questioned why Thunder GM Sam Presti didn’t make a play for a defensive-minded center like Marcus Camby at the trade deadline. Ibaka is why. Acquiring Camby would have made sense in the short term, but Presti has never stopped looking at the Thunder through a long-term lens. And through that lens he sees Ibaka as the defensive stopper the Thunder need. In 28 physical minutes, the 6-foot-10, 235-pound Ibaka (six points, five rebounds) banged bodies with the bigger Bynum and Gasol, finishing the game a team-high plus-six. The experience Ibaka is getting now is only going to make him a more effective player down the line.”
Major congrats to the Tulsa 66ers who locked away a spot in the D-League Finals last night by defeating the Iowa Energy 127-122. Latavious Williams had a big game with 19 points and 9 rebounds.
If you’ve never heard of Synergy Sports, it’s an amazing place that logs so much basketball information that your head might fall off. They have released their services to the general public for a low cost. You can watch game tape, find out how many iso plays Kevin Durant has had this season and so much more.
Dwight Howard was named Defensive Player of the Year yesterday in a landslide, but Thabo Sefolosha grabbed two first place votes and finished eighth overall.
Sebastian Pruiti breaks down a crucial play late in the game last night. He noticed something I didn’t. It was the same play OKC ran against Boston that got Jeff Green back-to-back 3s.
A solid comment after last night’s game from reader Todd: “Just heard on the news that the Lakers were late leaving L.A. for OKC this morning. They were about to lift off the runway when Ibaka jumped up and swatted the plane back to the terminal.”
Kevin Durant said again yesterday, this time to NBA.com writer Scott Howard-Cooper, that he wants to be in OKC: “If it doesn’t happen this summer, as long as I know I’m going to be here, then I’m happy,” Durant said. “And if it happens the summer after that, fine. I would like to get it tied down as quick as possible. But if it doesn’t happen like that, then everything happens for a reason. I’ll still be happy to be here and come to work every day and be a great person and the great teammate that I am. It’s all about just knowing that where there’s a will there’s a way. I’ll get done if it’s in the plans.”