John Hollinger of ESPN.com: “Nonetheless, we have the beginnings of a pattern here, too, and it’s not a good one for the Thunder. Whatever you think of Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, they allowed Oklahoma City to play an offensive style that often had the middle empty to open driving lanes for Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. In the first two games without them, we’ve seen how the dynamics have changed. The Thunder committed 19 turnovers against a packed-in Laker defense and scored only 31 points in the second half, stats that would be easier to attribute to the opponent were it not for the fact that the same thing happened to them on Friday in Orlando — when they came out of the break with a 40-point clunker and shot 33.3 percent for the night.”
From ESPN Stats and Info: “The Thunder had a chance to tie the game with under ten seconds remaining before Kevin Durant missed his shot attempt. Over the last three seasons Durant is just 2-12 on game tying three-point field goal attempts in the last minute of regulation or overtime. Only two players over that span have taken at least ten such attempts and made a lower percentage of those attempts: Kobe Bryant (1-10) and Aaron Brooks (1-10).”
I don’t like to point out dumb sportswriting that often because I’m sure I say my share of dumb things, but this column from NESN.com is seriously one of the dumbest things I’ve read.
Darnell Mayberry on misses opportunities: “The final minute was discouraging. Kevin Durant had a Ron Artest strip the ball from him with 49.9 seconds left and the Thunder down three. And when Bryant missed a jumper, Serge Ibaka secured the rebound to give the Thunder another chance. Westbrook then dribbled around like a chicken with his head cut off before barrelling down the lane for a charge. And when Lamar Odom missed two free throws, the Thunder wasted two more chances to tie when Durant missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key and James Harden misfired on a trey following a tap out by Nick Collison.”
Darius Soriano of Forum Blue and Gold: “Besides making things hard for Durant, the Lakers also tightened up the defense on Westbrook. After hurting the Lakers by getting to his spots and knocking down his mid-range jumper in the first half, LA made it a point of emphasis to deny Russ his angles and contest his shots whenever possible. And while Kobe did a good job of funneling Russ to specific spots on the floor and not giving up easy looks, holding Westbrook down really was a team effort. Every time he drove the Lakers bigs were there to contest his shot and either alter it to force a miss or foul him to make him earn the points at the line.”
Andy Kamenetzky of ESPN LA: “It wasn’t always the prettiest of games for Bryant, who missed 14 of his 22 shots, got stripped on a few occasions while over-dribbling, and seemed too caught up at times with the proverbial battle within the battle. In particular, the obsession with proving James Harden couldn’t guard him was obvious.” One moment I LOVED but forgot to mention in the post game was Harden slapping at the ball after a foul on Kobe. No fear in the beard.
Kurt Helin of PBT: “This game really tells us little about what would happen if these two teams hook up again in the playoffs because we don’t know what the Thunder will look like with Kendrick Perkins in the paint. He will certainly make life harder for Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, the Lakers bigs will dominate the game as they tend to against when these teams meet up.”
Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com writing on markets: “It’s not always about getting to the big city, by the way. Players from the diverse backgrounds of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili do fine in San Antonio, and Bosh was in a worldly place like Toronto — before he hit the escape button. Saying stars push for the bright lights is an oversimplification. Kevin Durant, having already won legions with the low-key contract announcement in the summer as LeBron James staged a PR nightmare, didn’t care about market size in Oklahoma City. He cared about market quality.”
Fran Blinebury on the Perkins deal: “Nobody is saying that OKC is making a panicky move or pushing in all of the chips on the table to win one hand. At 26, Perkins is just entering the prime of his career and could be a physical and emotional anchor for the Thunder for years. Nobody is saying they are skipping steps or cutting corners, only that it was time to press down a little more on the accelerator.”